Winter in New England sucks. It’s cold, the sun goes down at 3:30 pm, and the Patriots aren’t in the playoffs.
That feels weird to type. So the Patriots aren’t in the playoffs… hmmm I wonder why?
Well, no need to wonder for long because I am about to tell you it is 100% because of absolutely trash moves that have led New England to the situation it sees before them.
It’s not just that Jalen Mills didn’t work out…or Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne. So will a good Patriots signing please stand up?!
That’s the problem: there wasn’t a good signing. Instead, Bill Belichick, the mad genius, used a massive amount of money and our best draft pick in two decades to build an absolute snoozefest of a team.
At least the coaching was good, right? WRONG! Billy B decided to bring in defensive “mastermind” Matt Patricia to..get ready for a laugh…be the offensive play caller. Notice I didn’t use coordinator, mainly because Bill refused to use the term. Much like Voldemort, it was a position that must not be named.
But now is not the time to bitch about the past. Instead, it is time to fix the future of the New England Patriots. In this fictional world, I have been plucked off the streets by Robert Kraft himself and named GM of the team, with nothing but pure, unfiltered power at my disposal. So, let’s get to work on my grand design and fix the New England Patriots for 2023.
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Fixing the New England Patriots in 2023
STEP 1: CUT THE DEAD WEIGHT
That sounds rude, but there are several players that need to be released to create a significant amount of cap space.
The first player cut is Trent Brown, which will free up $10M in cap space. After flaming out with the Raiders, he made his return to become one of the most flagged linemen in the league. For his pay, he was awful. Time to go, and I wish him well.
The second player to be released is Kendrick Bourne, just criminally underused, and he deserves an opportunity elsewhere where he can contribute. His release opens another $5M.
Finally, we release Hunter Henry and free up another $10M in space. That was $25M freed in just three moves, and I will accept my award for GM of the year in person.
My next move is to have a sit down with the current face of the franchise…
STEP 2: LET’S BE HONEST ABOUT THE QB SITUATION
Let’s be real; McCorkle “Mac” Jones is not the QB anyone wanted him to be. Not to pat myself on the back, but I called this from a mile away. Alabama is not a QB producer (be careful, all of you Bryce Young fans), and Mac is just another name in the long list of guys who come out of that school at their absolute ceiling.
After a year of tape, we saw significant and very concerning regression out of the young QB. This season he put up 2,997 yards, 14 TD, and 11 INT. That led to a total QBR of 36.1, which was 28th in the league.
An absolute statue in the pocket, he adds no upside in the rushing department, and with an arm that is much more comparable to a super soaker than a rocket launcher, things don’t look great for the future with Mac at the helm.
That being said, under my leadership, we will be moving on from Mac Jones as a starter.
STEP 3: FIND A NEW QB FOR THE 2023 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Now, hitting the market for a QB is tough. The names out there are interesting, but nothing jumps off the page outside of Tom Brady making his grand return to save the franchise.
So, the trade market might be the way to go. But what kind of QB is going to fit into this offense? You need a guy who is really good with timing, as Bill O’Brien runs that quick-hitting style of offense that was synonymous with New England for so long.
When you run this timing-style offense, arm strength becomes a need. You cannot have someone who floats the ball, which results in hospital balls and gets receivers killed. Again, not saying you need Josh Allen, but you cannot rely on Mac Jones to get those tight window throws in there.
The solution is rooted in the past: Jimmy Garoppolo. Suddenly the odd man out in a very strange QB room in San Francisco, Jimmy G knows the system and can operate as a good game manager. He can push the ball downfield when needed. He’s not a strong-arm QB, but better than Mac in that department. So this is the answer, it isn’t sexy, but it works in all areas.
At 31 years old, you have plenty of time to draft a new QB next season potentially. Jimmy G will improve the offense on his own, but he isn’t someone you build the offense around. Instead, he is someone who is there to put the weapons in the best position to work.
So, in order to help with that…
STEP 4: TRADE FOR A STUD WR
New England is constantly stacked with compensatory picks. So let’s have some fun with them instead of drafting another DII player, reaching for a center, or drafting the less talented running back from Georgia (Hi, Sony Michel).
Out in the Arizona Desert is a receiver who still has gas in the tank and a chip on his shoulder. I am talking, obviously, about DeAndre Hopkins. An absolute force at the point of catch, he is someone who would instantly improve this offense and give the Patriots a true #1 receiver.
Age is a big factor with Hopkins, so he should be reasonably affordable for maybe a second or third-round pick. Adding him to the outside keeps defenses honest in all areas of the field.
Now for that pesky issue of protection…
STEP 5: FIX THE OFFENSIVE LINE
New England was known for having better-than-decent offensive lines. Well, that turned into a weakness this season, and the offense looked awful because of it. Signing and drafting offensive linemen will be key, with San Francisco’s Mike McGlinchey being the gold standard of the class right now. Landing him and a player like Andre Dillard would immediately help the tackle positions that were liabilities last season.
I won’t dive too deep into the offensive line because let’s be honest, it isn’t that much fun to talk about, read about, or write about, but it is crucial to the on-field product.
Give Garoppolo time, and he is pretty damn good, put him in a situation where he is running for his life, and he will be bad.
So, how do you slow down a pass rush?
STEP 6: GET IN ON THE RB MARKET
This class of running backs is so good. There are four guys who could easily step in and handle the number one duties. Ideally, in New England, you want a guy who will compliment Rhamondre Stevenson, who isn’t very fast or very shifty but can be a bowling ball runner.
In other words, he is thunder. We need lightning. That is a perfect way to describe Tony Pollard, a human highlight reel. With the ability to rush between the tackles and catch passes, Pollard is the ideal guy to come in and shake up that offense. Yes, he can get you those tough 4 yards, but he can also pop off and rip off an 80-yard run at any moment.
Coming off of a broken leg, his contract might actually be very reasonable, and Dallas might just let him go. He would be my primary target for the RB position.
“But Steve, the passing game can’t survive with just DeAndre Hopkins!” I am aware of that…
STEP 7: SIGN 2 MORE PASS CATCHERS
A good route runner can be so valuable for the offense, and Juju Smith-Schuster is a good route runner. Coming off of a good, not great, season should keep him affordable, and he is young enough to be valuable for the long haul. However, Juju is at his best when opposite a true number-one receiver, and DeAndre Hopkins is definitely that.
We need a Tight End. But not a big, slow, boring tight end. We are going to sign Irv Smith Jr. He is a vertical threat who can make stuff happen after the catch. With Hockenson in Minnesota now, it seems Smith might be on the move, and I will happily take him!
The last move, the move to really put this rebuild over the top…
STEP 8: DRAFT JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA AT 14
To me, there is a clear-cut best-in-class wide receiver that is JSN out of Ohio State University. I’m sorry, THE Ohio State University. An absolute beast on the field and borderline uncoverable, he could develop into the stud of studs with the time to learn from Hopkins.
Adding him to this wide receiver room would give New England a real chance at going places. Defensively, Belichick will put something serviceable out there, but the offense seems to be his Achilles heel. At this point, I am here to prove that Tom Brady wasn’t the guy who made Belichick, BILL I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LEGACY.
These moves are splashy, make sense, and will excite a fanbase that has come to believe it is championship or bust every year because Tom Brady made that the standard in New England. A bunch of rabid fans hyped up on shitty Dunkin’s coffee will go absolutely bonkers for an offense with this much firepower.
CONCLUSION FOR THE 2023 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
So, let’s see, we added a QB, three WRs, and a TE, plus improved the OL. All while cutting loose some dead weight and building for the future! Bailing on Mac and going to Jimmy? Simple and safe. Bringing in Hall of Fame talent in Hopkins to be the guy while mentoring the next stud? Inspired. Trapping lightning in a bottle in Tony Pollard is sexy. Basically, this is the absolute best-case scenario Patriots fans could hope for.
‘TIL NEXT TIME
So that wraps up this article! The offseason is just starting, and we here at Club Fantasy have some really fun stuff cooking for the upcoming year!
Remember, it’s never goodbye. It’s just ’til next time! Until then, be good, be good to each other, and remember that fantasy football is a game about a game. So don’t take it so seriously! Have fun, everyone!
We might not be able to fix every team this offseason, but you can click here to see who else we fixed!