First Look at the 2023 Patriots
This is a compilation of various reports from the Patriots’ open media day of the Organized Team Activity.
This interesting point was made by Patriots PR chief Stacey James. “On the first-day media could attend OTAs, more media attended (62), than will make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. “
The first observation is that Mac Jones is clearly the number one QB. He was 13 of 13 in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. Greg Bedard called the workout in shells, helmets, and shorts as crisp. A far cry from what we saw last year. Bill O’Brien was clearly in charge and organized. Mac Jones stressed 4 points in his press conference. 1.) It is a new relationship (with O’Brien) and we are building trust. 2.) Everyone is on the same page. 3.) We are building confidence. 4.) Need to bring your best every day.
UDFA Malik Cunningham played at WR and looked pretty good but he did have a drop which is to be expected in a player switching positions. His athleticism was very obvious. Cunningham even got a few reps with the 1st team and Mac Jones. He had a very good catch on a pass from Trace McSorley that was behind him. Many said it was the catch of the day.
Tyquan Thornton also looked good and had a big deep catch against Myles Bryant. Bryant was nowhere on the screen when Thornton turned on the jets.
Jalen Mills was at Safety and Adrian Phillips got 1st team reps at Devin McCourty’s Free Safety spot.
Third-round pick Marte Mapu was at weakside LB with JuWhaun Bentley, despite wearing the Red non-contact jersey. Mapu is recovering from a torn pectoral and won’t be available until mid-training camp. This is a big change in the defensive scheme going to a lighter/quicker LB. I stated after the draft that Mapu would be a LB rather than a Safety and this confirms that. The fact that he is in there taking reps is an indicator that they have big plans for him.
The offensive line had Reily Reiff starting at RT and Calvin Anderson at LT. Cole Strange at LG and Bill Murray at RG around David Andrews. Reiff then moved to LT and Connor McDermott moved into RT. We heard after the draft that Sidy Sow would be used at Tackle and he played some RT. Kody Russey was the 2nd team C.
Demario Douglas looked good because the team was stressing screen passes and the short passing game. Douglas has strong legs and a lower body despite his limited size. Ty Montgomery played both running back and wide receiver. Ivan Fears thinks that Montgomery has the inside track for the 3rd down-back role. Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris shared carries evenly along with James Robinson.
With Marcus Jones limited, Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers fielded punts. Speaking of punts, Bryce Baringer has a big leg and really good hang times. Chad Ryland showed off his leg too! He made all but one FG attempt.
The OTAs are not mandatory but it is a bit disappointing that several players are not participating. This doesn’t mean they are holding out or have an injury. In some cases, it may have to do with graduations or some schooling event.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster
OT Trent Brown
G Mike Onwenu (Inj)
G Chasen Hines
DL Christian Barmore
DL Lawrence Guy
DL Davon Godchaux
LB Matthew Judon
CB Christian Gonzalez
CB Isaiah Bolden
K Nick Folk
LS Joe Cardona
In addition, four players were limited. That group includes running back Rhamondre Stevenson, cornerback Marcus Jones, wide receiver Kayson Boutte, and tight end Scotty Washington. They were present for drills but eventually moved to the lower field to work with the training staff.
The rules violation that cost the Patriots being docked two OTAs and Bill Belichick fined $50,000 was strictly the responsibility of Special Teams coach Joe Judge. Bill Belichick took responsibility for it at the Press conference on Wednesday. However, all he would say about it is that we are past it and moving on.
I do not agree with Greg Bedard’s assessment that this was just a mistake and that Judge is an easy target now that Matt Patricia is not in town anymore. I believe Judge should have been swept out the door along with Patricia. He was as much to blame for that disaster last season, one that may ultimately ruin a promising young QB.
According to Bedard, “because Belichick, via assistant Berj Najarian, reminded all coaches of the offseason rules less than a month before the infraction.” Bedard tries to play this off as an “aggressive mistake”. Judge knew better and did it anyway. This type of disregard for the rules can’t be tolerated anymore. Judge needs to go. He was a former head coach and knew exactly what he did.
“The punitive nature of the punishment likely reflects the Patriots, meaning Judge, being careless with an NFLPA monitor on hand, and then not self-correcting quicker — like they/he was ignorant of the infraction, or simply didn’t care. That’s a big mistake” states Bedard.
Judge created another rules violation situation for Belichick even though Bill had nothing to do with it. Bill took full responsibility in his press conference.
Is this another example of Belichick not being on top of things like he used to be?
Bill is now losing his coaching staff the way he lost the locker room last year. This violation was reported by a player, probably an NFLPA rep like special teams long-snapper Joe Cardona. Perhaps in the past, this minor issue would have been overlooked. Not today.
Jack Jones could have been the whistleblower. Because of his suspension at the end of last season, he may hold a grudge against the Patriots. It will be interesting to see how he is used in the pre-season. Will his suspension affect his status as a potential starter? I have him penciled in as the RCB starter.
This type of “Cheating” needs to stop! Judge needs to be made an example of and dismissed from the team. If it was a player making this kind of mistake, Belichick would cut him loose in a heartbeat. The Patriots need to clean up their name and right now Patriots=Cheaters.
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