If you want a sense for how impotent the New England Patriots’ offense was in 2022, just ask the defenses that played them.
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi did just that at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week, asking an NFL defensive coordinator for his thoughts on facing a Patriots offense led by first-time play-caller Matt Patricia.
Let’s just say the coach’s answer doesn’t reflect well on New England.
“There was a simplicity to the scheme. And while there are plenty of good players there (he really likes Meyers) we felt like we could solve any problems they presented quickly.”
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi)
The defensive coordinator noted there was a “simplicity” to the Patriots’ offensive scheme, and that he and his players “felt like we could solve any problems they presented quickly.” The DC also said there wasn’t a matchup on New England’s offense that his team feared, and that his defense had the confidence to do “everything” scheme-wise:
“There was nothing we had to take off the table.”
That’s obviously an indictment of Patricia, who appeared in over his head while calling plays and coaching the offensive line for the first time. The Patriots’ offense seemed predictable for much of the season, with head coach Bill Belichick even suggesting that Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard and New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley had a beat on New England’s play calls during their 2022 matchups.
But these comments are also an indictment of the Patriots’ offensive personnel. The team lacked a true No. 1 wide receiver in 2022, with former undrafted free agent and converted quarterback Jakobi Meyers leading the team in receiving yards (804). Running back Rhamondre Stevenson was New England’s best offensive player but wasn’t exactly a matchup nightmare, while highly-paid tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith both failed to live up to their contracts.
Perhaps the biggest insult to an offense is that it’s easy to play against, so the Patriots need to take drastic action this offseason to revamp their offensive unit. While hiring veteran offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is a good start, the team also could benefit from adding a top-flight wide receiver who presents a legitimate matchup problem for defenses.
If New England can get more “dangerous” on offense in 2023, that will go a long way toward Mac Jones having a bounce-back season and the team returning to relevance. It sounds like there’s a low bar to clear from last season, however.
This content was originally published here.