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New England Patriots 2023 Season Awards

Unveiling the 2023 Patriots Season Awards: Recognizing the team's brightest stars and key achievements in Bill Belichick's final season as head coach
Patriots 2023 Season Awards

Finishing with just four wins and moving on from head coach Bill Belichick, the 2023 Patriots season will ultimately be remembered as the end of an unbelievable era in New England. Although the uncertainty of a new regime looms, there’s plenty of reason for optimism. This team has all the resources necessary to make a big turnaround in the offseason. Before shifting our focus to the highly-anticipated offseason, it’s worth highlighting the standout moments from the 2023 season, albeit few. With that in mind, let’s give out some awards for the Patriots 2023 season.

Patriots 2023 End-of-Season Awards

Team MVP: The Defense

It was extremely difficult to give the MVP award to any one player after the season we all just witnessed. There were a couple of defensive players (Christian Barmore and Jabrill Peppers) who had a case to make with outstanding seasons, but no individual player seemed to add the value the Patriots needed this year.

As a unit, the Patriots 2023 defense was one of the best in the league. They finished fourth in yards per play – first in rush yards per attempt and eighth in pass yards per attempt – and did so without any true stars at any position after losing Matt Judon for the entire year. Having such a stellar defense kept the Patriots competitive in many of their games this year; and without one, who knows how much worse it could’ve gotten.

Most Improved: Michael Onwenu – OT

Onwenu started the Patriots season at the guard position and certainly saw his fair share of struggles. Between healing an injury, other players in the rotation playing well, and another key injury, Onwenu was moved to tackle and almost instantly saw more production. PFF graded him the ninth-best offensive tackle in the NFL since Week 9. That’s no small sample size. The Patriots have found something in Onwenu and, hopefully, they can get a deal done to bring him back for next year.

Rookie of the Year: DeMario “Pop” Douglas – WR

“Pop” Douglas had the most receptions by a rookie receiver under Bill Belichick, finishing with 49. He was one of the only positives on an offense that SportfolioKings EDP model has earning an average of 1.1 points per drive. This matches the Jets offense for the league’s worst performance. With more stability at the quarterback position the offense should take a big jump, and Douglas along with it.

A phenomenal receiver out of the slot, Douglas has razor-sharp breaks that allow him to get that quick separation right off the line of scrimmage. In an offense that struggled to push the ball downfield, he was the go-to guy whenever his quarterback felt pressure early. Douglas was also the team’s highest-graded skill player on offense (74.4), just barely edging out tight end Pharaoh Brown (73.3), according to PFF.

12th Man of the Year: Mack Wilson Sr. – LB

Mack Wilson Sr. may have only played 27% of the defensive snaps for the Patriots this year, but he made sure to take advantage and make his presence felt. Transforming into a more dynamic linebacker/edge rusher hybrid this season, he significantly impacted the defense. If he can continue to hone his craft when attacking the quarterback, he can make an even bigger mark on next season. That, of course, would be assuming that the team can bring Wilson back with him set to become a free agent following a career year in both sacks and pressures. With more untapped potential left to uncover, Wilson’s likely to find himself with a more prominent role next year – no matter where he plays.

Leadership & Legacy Award: Matthew Slater – ST

“He’s just about the perfect player.” That’s what Bill Belichick had to say about special teams ace, Matthew Slater, this past December. Some of the highest praise you can receive, coming from one of the best football minds of all time. Many widely acknowledge Slater as one of the game’s greatest leaders ever. Not just by his head coach, but by just about everyone who’s ever played with him as well. Safety Kyle Dugger talked to A to Z Sports about how Slater impacts the organization when he’s not on the field. “He contributes to the organization and each person in every area. Just what he doesn’t say, what he does say, what his actions, and just the way he carries himself.”

The 2023 Patriots season awards wouldn’t be complete without recognizing a player with a legacy like his. The Patriots players all paid a touching tribute to Slater before playing the Jets, wearing sweatshirts with his number and the word “Captain” in place of his name. The front simply said “The Patriot” which perfectly sums up his time in New England. Possibly even more of a symbol of what Slater has meant – not just to the Patriots, but to the game of football – is Jets punter, Thomas Morestead, in tears as the two meet at midfield after the final game of the season. His impact reaches far beyond the walls of the Patriots organization.

Main Photo: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports


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