Analysis

Sports Info Solutions: New England Patriots 2022 Team Preview

Mac Jones

The New England Patriots finished below first place in the AFC East for the second straight season, after winning the division 16 of the 17 seasons prior. After a one-year playoff hiatus, the Patriots went into Wild Card weekend and were promptly blown out by division rival Buffalo, 47-17. New England will look to take steps forward in quarterback Mac Jones’ second year in an ever-improving and competitive division.

While then-rookie Jones was selected as a Pro Bowl replacement in 2021, the Patriots were led by their defense and rushing attack. Up front on the offensive line, the group finished with the fourth-most Total Points in the NFL, while the two-headed monster of Damien Harris and fellow rookie Rhamondre Stevenson powered the team to finishing eighth in yards per game and second overall in total rushing touchdowns, with 24.

Questions Around the Offense

The running game figures to be the focal point again of this offense in 2022. However, after the loss of both starting guards, third-year player Michael Onwenu and first-round draft pick Cole Strange move into starting roles and figure to be the difference-makers as to whether the unit can perform with the best in the NFL.

 

 

The passing game, along with the offense as a whole, figures to take on a whole new look with long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels accepting the head coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders. Without an official offensive coordinator to replace McDaniels, Patriots fans hope the uncertainty in play calling won’t hinder the development of Mac Jones. The Patriots upgraded at the wide receiver position by bringing in DeVante Parker via trade and drafting speedster Tyquan Thornton in the second round, a pick many considered a reach at 50 overall. That being said, the roster still doesn’t feature a true No. 1 go-to receiver, something that could be the difference in preventing Jones from taking a giant leap in Year 2.

Defense Expected to Shine

On the defensive side, the Patriots finished second in the NFL in total defense. They led the NFL in red zone expected points added per possession with -0.28. However, after the free agency loss of defensive Total Points leader and No. 1 cornerback J.C. Jackson (3.6), the team will need to rely more heavily on edge rusher Matthew Judon (2.3 TP/G) and young strong safety Kyle Dugger (2.6). Judon especially figures to be a key factor in the team’s success, as the team’s late season slide went hand-in-hand with Judon’s individual decline in production.

 

Matthew Judon Production

Weeks Games Team Record Sacks Total Points/Game
1-11 11 7-4 10 3.2
12-18 6 3-3 2 1.2

 

In a playoff game in which the Bills punted the ball once, the Pats’ defense needs to remain strong and reliable for 18 full weeks and throughout any postseason games the team may see. That is a tall task, especially as the team looks to fill the shoes of the aforementioned Jackson, team leader Dont’a Hightower, and fellow starting linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.

 

 

With the way the schedule falls, finishing the season strong should be the focal point of the team this upcoming year. After starting the season 9-4 and going into a Week 14 bye on a seven-game winning streak, the Patriots finished the season 1-3, with their only win coming against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The 2022 schedule features five of the final six games against 2021 playoff teams, including both matchups against the Bills and a Christmas Eve showdown against the defending AFC Champion Bengals. Those final six games figure to be pivotal to their overall success, and could dictate the direction this organization is headed in upcoming seasons.

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