The Patriots season came to a disappointing end in Sunday’s loss to the Bills, where New England would’ve earned a trip to the postseason with a win in Orchard Park.
Unfortunately, the Week 18 matchup didn’t go as planned, so the Patriots are heading into an early offseason that should be filled with significant organizational changes to get back to the playoffs.
Here’s a note compiled from our weekly film reviews on every single player currently on the Patriots roster who played a snap in 2022:
Mac Jones – We wrote an extensive breakdown of the starting quarterback here. Mac has proven to be a functional NFL starter capable of operating at a high level from clean pockets. However, it remains to be seen how much he can elevate an NFL offense, especially when he’s going toe-to-toe with an elite quarterback. To date, he’s still searching for a signature win against a playoff team at full strength. Next season, the Pats should level the playing field with an experienced OC and a top weapon at Jones’s disposal.
Bailey Zappe (rookie) – The 2021 fourth-round pick made the season interesting when he filled in for nearly three games when Jones was injured. Zappe showed poise, clean mechanics to produce accurate throws, and impressive processing speed for a first-year QB. He proved himself as a fringe starter/high-end backup who could push Jones next summer. However, Zappe’s physical limitations to create plays on his own and under pressure are also concerns.
Brian Hoyer – Hoyer is under contract for the 2023 season at a $2.24 million cap hit. With Zappe as the backup, it’s fair to wonder if Hoyer is worth that cap number. But, even on injured reserve, he was a constant at the facility to the point where it’s fair to assume he was a de facto coach. Would he surrender his roster spot for a permanent coaching role? Probably not. Why take less money to work more hours when you can do the job on an active player contract?
Rhamondre Stevenson – Stevenson made massive strides, becoming the first Patriot to rush for over 1,000 yards in seven seasons. There’s a case for Stevenson being the best between-the-tackles runner in football. His blend of power, lateral agility, and contact balance are elite traits. The second-year back made improvements in the passing game this season. But his technique and recognition in blitz protection regressed, likely due in part to a hefty workload, and he still has a ways to go in terms of route timing and separation. For an early-down back, Stevenson is a positive as a pass-catcher. But he’s not a pure receiving back in the James White mold.
Damien Harris (2023 UFA) – Harris is one of a handful of notable free agents heading into the offseason. After appearing in 11 games this season, durability is a concern, and they need a consistent running mate to avoid wearing down Stevenson again next season. Still, Harris has all the qualities of a productive early-down back with good patience and burst to follow blocks in gap schemes as a downhill runner. With an injury-plagued season, Harris might stay in New England’s price range where it makes sense to retain him for the 2024 season.
Pierre Strong (rookie) – The Patriots hardly ever throw first-year running backs into the fire, and Strong is no exception with 17 touches in 2022. However, his top-end speed and lateral agility are enticing traits that we saw even in limited reps. There’s game-breaking ability here, and we’d love to see Strong become Stevenson’s spell-back in year two. Get that speed and big play ability on the field, please. Strong has a ways to go in the kicking game, though. His running into the punter penalty in Minnesota and poor containment on Nyheim Hines’s first kickoff return TD contributed directly to two losses. Strong needs to be better there if he’s going to be a core special teamer.
Kevin Harris (rookie) – Like Strong, the Pats other day-three rookie RB only had 18 rushing attempts this season. Harris runs with great power and aggression, making him a fit for early-down work if the elder Harris departs in free agency. But don’t put him on the field in the passing yet. There were several mental mistakes in limited reps there. With that said, the Pats should feel comfortable going into the 2023 season with Stevenson, Strong, and Kevin Harris at the top of their RB depth chart.
Ty Montgomery – Montgomery would’ve been a valuable asset to this team in the passing game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay healthy. The veteran was New England’s best receiving back in camp, showing natural skills working out of the backfield, could flex out wide with his receiver background, and had a good grasp of their passing game. He would’ve helped them this past season and is under contract for 2023. If healthy, expect him to compete for the job next summer.
J.J. Taylor – A practice squad running back who can play a role on the scout team and get a standard elevation in a pinch. Taylor has NFL burst, but his size really limits him.
Jakobi Meyers (2023 UFA) – For a player to make a mistake as Meyers did in Vegas to have an overwhelmingly positive review still is a testament to Meyers’s consistency and professionalism. Meyers is one of the NFL’s best separators against man coverage, remains a high IQ zone beater, and is an underrated contested catch receiver in traffic. He might not have the same bursty routes or YAC ability as his slot predecessors, but Meyers can play that role at a starter level. It’ll be interesting to see if he prices himself out of New England in free agency.
Tyquan Thornton (rookie) – There’s a chance the Patriots put too much on Thornton’s plate in his rookie season. He would have been better off as a shot-play option rather than playing 65.6% of the snaps with a full route tree. Thornton’s usage left a lot to be desired all season, as this coaching staff struggled to get him into consistent foot races in space other than on vertical shots. His route technique and conversions based on coverages are incredibly raw. But he should’ve gotten more help with motion and alignment to outrun defenders rather than asking him to be crafty.
DeVante Parker – Parker is under contract for next season and was by far the Patriots best boundary receiver in 2022. He wears coverage. But Parker is an absolute bully with the ball in the air. The veteran was the only Pats receiver who consistently made plays from the X spot and made a big difference when healthy. They should hang onto him at a $6.3 million cap hit.
Kendrick Bourne – Ah, the curious case of why didn’t Bourne play more this season. There’s evidence that Bourne is their most skilled receiver. He gets off the line with good burst, can uncover in his route breaks, wins at the catch point with some consistency, and is a plus ball carrier. His usage came down to mental errors and likely internal bouts with the coaching staff. To say there weren’t any reasons for his lack of playing time ignores all the warning signs, but the coaches should’ve buried the hatchet and gotten one of their best playmakers on the field.
Nelson Agholor (2023 UFA) – Agholor started the year with what could’ve been a breakout performance in Week 2, and maybe his usage should’ve resembled that more (crossers from the slot and condensed splits) rather than playing so much on the boundary. Still, his game leaves much to be desired from a physicality and focus standpoint. The Patriots will likely move on from him this offseason with eyes toward an upgrade.
Lynn Bowden – Unclear if he’s an NFL player due to a limited sample size. But I always liked his versatility and skill with the ball in his hands.
Hunter Henry – Henry had another solid season in the passing game. He’s a reliable target for Jones, who has good chemistry with the quarterback and was one of the few Pats pass catchers consistently in the right spot. At this stage of his career, he’s not running by anyone with great acceleration in his vertical routes. But he can still uncover through the break point and runs the seam well enough to be a threat. It’s not his fault that the coaches couldn’t get him more involved in the early going. As a run blocker, Henry struggled for most of the year. He’s not a great in-line run blocker, which is something the team could target in the draft.
Jonnu Smith – The Patriots aren’t getting a good return on their investment with Smith. We all understand that. He was a better in-line run blocker than Henry this season, and his versatility is something that a more creative offensive coordinator could utilize. But his contributions in the passing game are so hyper-specific to his skill set that it’s hard to envision Smith ever producing at a high level. The Patriots could use a post-June 1 designation on Smith to get out of the rest of his contract, but they’d still carry his cap hit till June 2. In other words, the odds are the Patriots will have Smith on their roster for the 2023 season.
Matt Sokol – Good enough practice squad body who can be a standard elevation in a pinch. However, the Pats might look to upgrade TE3 in the draft this spring.
Scotty Washington – Intriguing physical tools with a massive frame, ridiculous catch radius, and good build-up speed as a long-strider. Wish we got to see more and looking forward to seeing him in camp next summer now that he’s returning on a future contract.
David Andrews – Still one of the best centers in football at age 30. Andrews’s leadership value is off the charts, even in a season where they took some of the controls away from him at the line of scrimmage. It would benefit this offense greatly to let the captain help make line calls and adjustments next season. Andrews is still moving well, is nasty and physical in the running game, and helped rookie LG Cole Strange every week. The only blemishes on his film came when he had longer nose tackles over him in pass protection, and they used their length to dent the pocket. But it wasn’t a major issue.
Cole Strange – As is the case for any rookie who plays right away, Strange’s first season was a roller coaster. He got put on skates by power IDLs and struggled against elite competition. However, he finished the final two games strong with one hurry allowed in 78 pass-blocking reps. His instincts to see schemed rushes and body control in the running game are improving, while the explosiveness from his college tape translates on reach blocks and second-level climbs. Strange will be a solid guard with a full offseason focusing on adding weight and more reps.
Mike Onwenu – One of the team’s most consistent players. Onwenu was mostly good from start to finish, with a few blips in pass protection late, but he’s a people-mover in the running game every week who was tasked with the vast majority of one-on-ones in pass pro since the help went to Strange. He also dealt with a revolving door at right tackle until Connor McDermott settled in, and even then, McDermott is a replacement-level player. Onwenu is a stud.
Trent Brown – Brown’s film throughout the season was hot-and-cold. There are times when the light is on that he looks like his old self, but the focus penalties and pressures started to pile up late in the season. Brown’s foot speed to keep his edge is in decline, and he’s not gaining as much depth out of his stance. The Pats have him for a cheap cap hit next season, which likely means he sticks around while they break in a rookie or two, but it’s time to start planning for the future at left tackle.
Connor McDermott (2023 UFA) – As head coach Bill Belichick said, the Pats were lucky to find McDermott during the year on the Jets practice squad. He was their best right tackle this season, which says a lot about the situation at that spot. McDermott can power run block in gap schemes, executing double-teams or kick-outs. Plus, rushers will not go through him in his pass sets. But his limited range led to plenty of issues with rushers turning the corner on him, and his effectiveness waned each week in the second half. Upgrade incoming.
Isaiah Wynn (2023 UFA) – His game completely fell off a cliff this year before the team sent him to the bench and then to injured reserve. Wynn’s time in New England is likely over. He had the skill with good foot speed and stiff hands but lacked the drive to put it all together. The switch to right tackle was the final straw.
Marcus Cannon (2023 UFA) – At this stage of his career, Cannon could be a useful tackle eligible because he can still run block in a phone booth. But a slower tackle has lost a few steps. His pass pro tape was rough.
Yodny Cajuste (2023 RFA) – It’s disappointing that the Patriots couldn’t develop Cajuste into a swing tackle who could play over a journeyman like McDermott. He has flashes, but the team obviously felt he wasn’t consistent enough to play down the stretch. We’ll see if he’s back to compete for a roster spot in August.
James Ferentz (2023 UFA) – Ferentz has improved to the point where he’s a serviceable backup, more at center than guard, but a helpful insurance policy nonetheless. Expect the Pats to bring him back on the cheap. He helps out a lot in a de facto coaching role as well.
Kody Russey – Didn’t log a snap in the 2022 season but projects as a center-in-waiting when the time comes for David Andrews to retire. They like Russey internally, which is why he was signed to the 53-man roster mid-season from the practice squad.
Christian Barmore – We could make the case that Barmore is the most talented player on the entire roster. He has excellent get-off/explosiveness, upper-body power, and fluidity for an interior DL. It’s a shame he couldn’t stay healthy in year two, but he logged 11 total pressures in his final two games. Looking for big things out of Barmore in his third season.
Deatrich Wise – Wise had his best season as a pro with a career-high eight sacks and 56 total pressures. It’s fair to point out that he sometimes beat up on backups. But he consistently disrupted the quarterback with his upper-body length and long strides that helped him access the edges quickly. He is also no longer a target for offenses in the running game. Wise is a late bloomer and is emerging as a leader on this defense.
Davon Godchaux – As we know, in New England, nose tackles aren’t going to have gaudy statistics. It’s a thankless job, and the Patriots run defense was good against traditional rushing attacks (yes, they still had issues vs. mobile QBs). I’m not sold that Godchaux brings enough value for what they’re paying him, but he does his job in an odd front defense that needs an NT.
Lawrence Guy – Guy is still a stout B-Gap run defender in an odd front, two-gapping system (3-4 DE). He has the sand and technique to stand up double-teams, making the Pats a tough defense to run on with gap/power schemes. But he’s never going to be a great lateral mover, and it’s fair to wonder how much longer he wants to play at age 32. A sneaky player to watch when it comes to retirement (no inside info. Just looking at age and years of high snap counts).
Daniel Ekuale (2023 UFA) – Ekuale’s ability to rush the passer surprised me this season. He’s got some juice, and his 22 total pressures weren’t fluky. Give him a one-on-one, and he can beat guards and centers. I’d like to see him back next to Barmore in pass-rush packages.
Carl Davis (2023 UFA) – Will never be more than a part-time role player, but Davis gives them good reps in their jumbo fronts against run-first offenses and short-yardage packages. Similar to Ekuale, I wouldn’t mind seeing him back to keep the rotation as is next season.
Sam Roberts – Very raw block recognition and hand technique. But Roberts has good initial quickness off the line and is a big body. DeMarcus Covington and Joe Kim will keep working with him, and maybe Roberts can emerge as a situational rusher in year two.
Matthew Judon – Judon only registered one sack in the season’s final four games. In that respect, he faded a bit like the 2021 season, but it wasn’t as big of a drop-off. Judon logged 18 total pressures in the final five games, which more than doubled his final five games in 2021 (eight). The Pats also used him as a decoy more down the stretch, contributing to Uche’s breakout campaign since Uche got most of the one-on-ones. Ideally, Judon is more impactful in big games at the end of the year. But I wouldn’t say he disappeared this season. His speed/inside counter circuit is lethal.
Josh Uche – Uche was my favorite player to watch on film this season for the Patriots. Although he’s still working on edge discipline against mobile QBs, he was in his bag every week. Along with a great speed rush, Uche pulled out signature moves and was a flat-out handful to block. Hesi moves, inside-outside rips, ghost rushes, etc. His breakout season saw him register 11.5 sacks and 56 quarterback pressures.
Anfernee Jennings – Jennings was used to spell Judon on early downs throughout the season and consistently set the edge. He doesn’t have much burst off the line, but he can play the role on first down. For a team that doesn’t get many kudos these days for developing young players, Jennings and Uche are on the right track.
Jamie Collins (2023 UFA) – Came in for 37 defensive snaps to set the edge and occasionally drop into the flat in zone. He was fine. But let’s give Jennings and Uche those reps.
Ja’Whaun Bentley – Bentley will always have athletic limitations in space and coverage. But he is a downhill missile for this defense and is serviceable in low-stress coverage assignments. He plays Belichick’s stack linebacker role by the book and was a more impactful blitzer this season. Bentley had a good year and has developed into a solid player. But he’s not dynamic enough in space to call him a true difference-maker.
Jahlani Tavai – Similar to Bentley, Tavai’s off-ball reps in coverage are shaky. But he can take on blocks and gives them some early-down versatility to play on the line. Pats fans will continue to pound the table for more explosive movers at linebacker, which is understandable, especially if they play so much zone. Still, Bentley and Tavai fit their current mold.
Raekwon McMillan (2023 UFA) – McMillan had his moments this season playing downhill at the line of scrimmage. In particular, he made some great reads to trigger to the ball. However, he struggled to get off blocks and was often targeted in the run game. If he’s back on the cheap for continuity purposes, sure. But the Pats would benefit from a rookie LB taking his snaps next season. As a whole, this group lacked impact plays.
Mack Wilson (2023 UFA) – Wilson was phased out after he failed to push Josh Allen out of bounds in a spy role leading directly to a playground TD in Week 13. He didn’t log a single snap on defense in the final five games. Early indications suggest he’ll play elsewhere in 2023.
Jonathan Jones (2023 UFA) – The Pats veteran was put in a difficult position this season, playing a career-high 778 snaps at outside corner while facing a gauntlet of elite receivers. Despite that, Jones allowed a respectable passer rating of 77.1 into his coverage. He’s not a lockdown corner, per se, but Jones is our top priority in free agency this spring. His ability to cover Tyreek Hill alone, who the Patriots will now see twice a year, is worth re-upping him. Jones made some money this season, though, and it won’t come cheap.
Myles Bryant (2023 RFA) – Bryant plays so much in the Pats slot/safety hybrid role because it’s an information-heavy position, and he’s a heady player. But, athletically, they can do a lot better. Bryant’s reactive speed is too slow, so he gets beat in man coverage and other foot races when he’s not a step ahead of his assignment. He takes too much heat. You’ll give up your fair share of plays when you play in the slot. Still, the Pats can upgrade this spot.
Marcus Jones – Speaking of reducing Bryant’s role, the hope is that Jones will step into that spot as a full-time nickel for the Patriots in 2023. He has much better cover talent, and his teammates rave about Jones’s football IQ. The rookie is undersized, but that won’t be a problem playing inside as much as it was on the boundary. Jones should take over for Bryant next season and continue playing all three phases.
Jack Jones – When Belichick says he still sees a future on this team for Jones, I believe him. However, Jones was very inconsistent, and his on-ball production came in the two games early in the season. The rookie has good cover talent. You can see that in his footwork and his ability to transition smoothly in man. Still, he needs to develop his recognition to read the initial stages of routes to avoid being over-aggressive. He only got burned for it once or twice, but there were far more instances on film where he was beat and didn’t pay the price. Luckily, this is mainly mental to develop instincts and feel for routes rather than physical limitations.
Jalen Mills – Mills is who he is, and the team could’ve used him for the stretch run. The veteran corner isn’t a sticky man coverage player, but he can hold up as a full-time outside CB, is a good zone defender, and might play some safety if Devin McCourty retires. Those guys are useful.
Tae Hayes – We barely saw Hayes as a late-season addition, so it’s hard to come up with a full evaluation. I was impressed to see his grasp of the defense in a short period of time, though.
Shaun Wade – Struggled to hang with NFL receiver talent in limited reps. Wade had promise entering the league, but they’ll probably look to upgrade their depth options this offseason. He’ll be on the roster bubble next summer.
Quandre Mosely – The physical tools are there based on his Pro Day workout, but he played one snap for the Patriots this season. No idea.
Devin McCourty (2023 UFA) – If this was it for McCourty, it’s the end of a legendary career, and he’ll have my vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are signs that he’s showing his age, specifically when it appears that his mind is reacting faster than he can move his body. But his knowledge of both his role as the Pats primary center fielder and offensive philosophy is invaluable, not to mention the leadership and intangibles. If McCourty wants to play, I’m down for another year while he trains his successor at free safety.
Kyle Dugger – As I’ve said multiple times on Patriots Catch-22, Dugger is the new Jamie Collins. He’s emerging as a two-way playmaker with impact plays against the run, as a blitzer, and ball-hawking talent in the secondary. However, he still gets beat at times in coverage, mainly in man coverage in the red zone and when he’s playing middle-of-the-field zones in space. But you’ll live with that for the splash plays, and, hopefully, Dugger refines his coverage skills. I would entertain an early extension to get him locked up long-term.
Adrian Phillips – Still a heady veteran who can play in the box or half-field safety assignments. But his impact plays waned down the stretch, and he can’t be trusted to cover tight ends in man coverage. By the end of the season, Peppers was the more impactful player.
Jabrill Peppers (2023 UFA) – Peppers had his fair share of coverage breakdowns from a positional standpoint. But he’s one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the league. Watching him blow up tight ends and take on blocks in the running game was fun. Next season, there’s a hybrid role for him on this team, especially if McCourty retires and Phillips continues to show his age.
Joshuah Bledsoe – The team had great depth at safety which gave him little chance to play a significant role. Thought he showed well for the most part in man coverage against tight ends, starting in camp, but the small sample size hurt him. Could see the field next season.
Matthew Slater (2023 UFA) – Another legendary career potentially ending for a player who also has my Pro Football Hall of Fame vote. Slater looked like Slater in his age 37 season. However, based on his post-game reaction to Sunday’s loss, it feels more likely that this was it for him than McCourty.
Brenden Schooler – The next king of special teams for the Patriots? Schooler should’ve received votes for the Pro Bowl this season. He was always around the ball in the kicking game and made a team-high 12 special teams tackles. They missed him in Week 18.
DaMarcus Mitchell – Another young up-and-comer on special teams. Mitchell gives them size on their coverage units and has a great attitude. Consistently one of the most energetic players on a day-to-day basis. He was a ball of energy around the facility.
Cody Davis – We probably should’ve talked about Davis’s absence more when it came to the drop-off on special teams this season. One player doesn’t cover everything up, but Davis’s leadership and consistency in covering kicks would’ve helped this unit out.
Raleigh Webb – Similar body type to Davis, which is why he was brought in. But, to be honest, he wasn’t great from this viewpoint.
Calvin Munson – Played 14 special teams snaps in the finale and was at the point of attack on Nyheim Hines’s first kickoff return TD. Not great.
Nick Folk – Folk had a slight dip in effectiveness this season going from three field goal misses last season to five misses season. Although he was slightly better on extra points, four misses between 40-49 yards are a little worrisome for a guy who was automatic from inside 50 for two years. Kicking off messed up his routine and contributed to leg fatigue. With Folk at 38 years old, the Pats could draft a kicker if Vizcaino isn’t a long-term option.
Jake Bailey – Statistically, Bailey was the second-worst punter in the league, behind only…Palardy. Ouch. He was missed on kickoffs, though, where his touchback rate would’ve been a revelation. Now, Bailey’s grievance for a two-week suspension will likely determine his future with the team. If Bailey loses, he will carry zero guarantee dollars into next season, making him a cut candidate if the Patriots acquire a new punter.
Michael Palardy – Palardy started alright but eventually fell off a cliff. The Patriots are in the market for a punter this offseason.
Joe Cardona and Tucker Addington – Not going to pretend to know anything about long snapping other than it didn’t seem to be an issue.
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Quick-Hit Thoughts on Every Player on the Patriots Roster During … – Patriots.com