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Top 5 Biggest Questions for the New England Patriots

Image Credit: (Brian Fluharty/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin:

Twitter: @nicholasmullick

With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Steelers, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the New England Patriots who had the 29th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there are still questions that remain with this team.

1. Will this offense get better or worse without Josh McDaniels?

Well, let's get this one out of the way. The New England Patriots offense is going to have a change as Josh McDaniels was hired by the Las Vegas Raiders to be their head coach. Despite the controversies and my criticisms of McDaniels, I can’t deny that he was a good offensive coordinator. Despite having head coach Bill Belichick as the head coach, McDaniels has has an impact on how strong the Patriots offense has been since he returned in 2012. This offense is going to be completely different so who did the patriots decide to hire as the offensive coordinator well apparently it is going to be a shared duty between Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. Yes, because they worked out so well running their offenses during their respective time as the head coach. Maybe both Patricia and Judge can prove me wrong by having this offense perform well without Josh McDaniels. But the answer to this question will be answered probably at the end of next season.

2. Who will be the third-down back for the Patriots?

The New England Patriots have a crowded backfield right now. I think it is clear that Damien Harris will be the starting running back for New England. But who will be the third-down back behind him? Rhamadore Stevenson had a good season last year but has durability concerns that took him out last year. There is no word yet on if James White is healthy, but when he is he is a good back to have. The Patriots reached on Pierre Strong in the 4th round, but obviously, see something in him. Maybe he might get the role if he impresses and others struggle. Kevin Harris and JJ Taylor are both battling to get a roster spot for the team. I can’t say for sure who gets this role, but it is a big question as the Patriots offense is getting restructured and the Patriots may utilize a different system.

3. Which wide receivers will make the roster?

This has been the most crowded receiver core I have seen from the Patriots in a few years. Unfortunately, somebody has to go and they will likely be keeping only 7. Out of the bunch, I think it is clear Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Devante Parker, and Jakobi Meyers are locks to make the roster. Nelson Agholor is a solid receiver, but due to cap reasons if he struggles it would not shock me if New England parts ways with him. Lil’Jordan Humphery, Matthew Slater, and Ty Montgomery are mainly battling for special teams spots. Kristen Wilkinson showed flashes in that Jaguars game last season. If he impresses and shows improvement he can make the roster. I mean N’Keal Harry’s career in New England is pretty much done as they tried trading him multiple times. I think he is a goner on this team. It can be anyone that makes this roster as the Patriots have a ton of depth and like I said somebody in this group has to go.

UPDATE: Wow, the timing of my writing is crazy. While I was writing this news came out that N’Keal Harry has been traded to the Chicago Bears

4. How will the Patriots be utilizing LB Josh Uche?

For the past few months, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Josh Uche. In fact, I remembered him at one point compared to Dont'a Hightower by Bill Bellichick and his son Steve Belichick called him an important piece to this defense. I believe their statements as they for the past few seasons have overhauled the linebacker core, but kept Uche on the team. I was a fan of the Uche pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and thought he would be a great fit with the Patriots roster. So far, he has not really panned out mainly due to injuries. This year could be his last chance at a starting role, but this got me wondering, where will Uche even be utilized? Well, there is an outside linebacker, but he will have to beat Mack Wilson for the starting role. Wilson has had good seasons during his time with the Browns and the Patriots decided to acquire him via trade. There is the inside linebacker position as well and it is a pretty weak core. However, Uche is not that great when he plays some snaps at middle linebacker. He also played snaps at pass rusher as well and showed flashes as well. It will be intriguing how they utilize Uche as the coaching staff is very high on him.

5. Who will be the number 1 cornerback for the Patriots?

Once the Patriots decided to not re-sign CB JC Jackson the Patriots had a big need at cornerback. They did sign and draft new players, but I don’t know if I have the confidence yet to name the number 1 cornerback on this team. The Patriots brought back CB Malcolm Butler, which I never thought would happen after the way they mishandled and benched him during Super Bowl 52. He had a great three years with the Tennessee Titans but got released due to salary reasons. Butler was going to play for the Cardinals but retired due to personal reasons. Butler out of nowhere then signed with New England and hopefully, he can recapture his skills with the Patriots. Jalen Mills was solid last year as the number 2 cornerback but struggled at the end of the season. Jonathan Jones was solid but is more of a rotational cornerback. Terrance Mitchell is not terrible, but he is now 30 years old and could suffer a decline soon. Justin Bethel has reached the point of decline and was mediocre last season. Jack Jones and Marcus Jones were drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft and will need time to develop. Somebody has to take the role and replace JC Jackson and I wish each player luck in this positional battle.



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