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#pounditMonday, January 30, 2023

Patriots could make major change early in season?

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are entering the 2022 season surrounded by doubts about their new offense, and one reporter who covers the team hinted that the scheme could be scrapped early on.

Chad Graff and Ted Nguyen of The Athletic published an in-depth look at the problems the Patriots have on offense during the offseason and how they might be able to remedy them. New England has switched to a wide zone scheme, which is effective around the NFL when run properly. It was ineffective for the Patriots during their preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders and the joint practices leading up to it, however.

As Graff notes, the Patriots attempted four outside zone rushes with their starting offensive line against the Raiders. They ended up with net negative yardage. Matt Patricia, a former Patriots defensive coordinator who was brought back this year to help coach the offense, essentially said the Pats were seeing what works and would not have run some of those plays against the defensive fronts they saw if it were a regular season game. In any case, New England’s new offense has looked terrible for weeks now.

“Still, the results from the preseason match what we saw in training camp. It has gone so poorly that there are questions about whether the Patriots might scrap this new scheme if it doesn’t find success early in the season,” Graff wrote.

Patricia acknowledged after the Raiders game that the Patriots will “modify and adjust as needed.” The big question is how drastic that adjustment might be if things go as poorly as many have anticipated they will.

Perhaps the Patriots will prove everyone wrong. Mac Jones is said to be working extremely hard heading into his second NFL season, though there was at least one troubling assessment of him recently. If New England is unable to move the ball and score in their season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, there will be more than a few people ready to press the panic button.

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