The New England Patriots missed the NFL playoffs last season, bringing frustration too much of the fanbase. Immediately following the disappointing season, it seemed as though owner Robert Kraft would kick into high gear and start making changes right away.
The tone he addressed the fans in was one of urgency, and many got the sense that he would put his foot on the gas and maybe start spending more. Even Bill Belichick showed his displeasure with the overall team spending this off-season, stating, “we are one of the lowest spending teams in the league.”
However, it didn’t feel that way. They showed us the typical New England Patriots off-season—one of slow communication, non-urgent meetings, and special teams players signing for top dollar. The move of not bringing back their best offensive weapon in Jakobi Meyers seemed strange. It seemed like they were back to the Patriot’s way of not spending money.
One move the fanbase seemed to like was the signing of Bill O’Brien, bringing him back to the Patriots, a team he was a part of from 2007-2011. Maybe they were finally going to turn things around this off-season and start making the proper moves to put them in a position to win.
The Signing Of JuJu
Finally, a real offensive coordinator was hired and given the official title. In the eyes of the fans, the next focus should be a wide receiver or help on that offensive line. It wasn’t until March 15th that the Patriots made breaking news headlines, signing Super Bowl Champion JuJu Smith-Schuster to a three-year $33 million contract. The contract was identical to Meyers’s, leaving some fans wondering if this was a step sideways regarding its impact on this team.
JuJu only had three receiving touchdowns last year while receiving passes from the game’s best, Patrick Mahomes. To his credit, he was playing on the inside, and Mahome’s favorite target, of course, is star tight end Travis Kelce. Nonetheless, Smith-Schuster’s yardage was solid, almost reaching the 1,000-yard mark in the regular season, so we will have to wait and see what type of production he brings to the Patriots.
This team still needs to improve, and some look at the Smith-Schuster signing as simply a wide receiver two and not the guy for your number-one role. It wouldn’t surprise me if the patriots stick with it and start focusing on other positions, leaving the WR core as is. With the release of Meyers and the addition of Smith-Schuster, maybe this team is looking for more of a “fresh start” under O’Brien.
Considering his coaching situation, Mac Jones can get the job done, and I don’t fault him for last year’s debacle. With a new offensive coordinator, I expect them to get him some protection and stick to his strengths this year, leading to a more fluent offense as a whole. At least we got rid of Jonnu Smith;. However, it was a terrible contract; cutting out players that were non-factors in this offense can only benefit the team.