Some news and notes for this morning:
Belichick’s Last Season?
File this under “the offseason is way too long” category.
NFL.com analyst Adam Schein put together his “nine bold predictions” for 2023, and his outlook on the Patriots is certainly less than positive.
In fact, he believes that the 2023 campaign will go bad enough that Robert Kraft’s comments from earlier this year could result in Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England coming to an end.
“I think the Bills and Jets each win at least 11 games, while the Dolphins hit double digits,” writes Schein. “The Patriots? Feels like 7-10 or 8-9, and that’s actually a credit to Bill Belichick’s brain. No disrespect to the best coach in football history, but this roster is a distant fourth in the AFC East. Mac Jones is average, at best. His receiving corps is subpar. Belichick’s defense will be typically solid, but you need firepower in this stacked AFC.”
“Back in March, New England owner Robert Kraft said it’s ‘very important’ the Patriots return to the playoffs. What happens when they finish in the AFC East cellar for the first time since Belichick’s first season in New England? It becomes his last season in New England.”
However, take Schein’s comments with a grain of salt. This is the same writer who leads off this same column with predicting Sam Darnold, who is now with the 49ers, beating the Jets in the Super Bowl.
Needless to say, there’s a significant difference between bold and crazy and he’s definitely flirting with it.
No Meeting Between Jones/Belichick
One of the biggest discussions over the last week has been about Belichick’s relationship with Mac Jones, which various reports have said still looks a little shaky.
Jones went from Belichick being fully in his corner last offseason to a complete 180° where he’s back to being just another player, at least in terms to how his head coach has discussed him.
Belichick was slightly warmer last week, saying when asked how Jones had evolved, “Good. I think Mac works hard every day. He puts in a lot of time both in the weight room, in the classroom, works hard on the field. His work ethic is really good, and hasn’t changed.”
Still, out on the field, reports have said that Jones spent most of last week’s open session with new offensiver coordinator, Bill O’Brien, and had limited interactions with Belichick.
As a result, he’s clearly back to square one when it comes to starting 2023 with a clean slate, albeit not in the ideal sense for the third-year quarterback.
SI’s Albert Breer gave some thoughts on the situation, with Breer reporting that the two never really hashed out any issues after last season.
“As for any lingering issues between Jones and Belichick, it was far harder to ascertain whether the needle’s moved much on that relationship at all,” wrote Breer. “There was no come-to-Jesus meeting at the end of the last season on how everything came undone, and my understanding is Jones has spent his time with O’Brien, with Belichick mostly delegating all things offense to his new/old coordinator, in a siloed-off model that feels, to those there, much more like how things were when Josh McDaniels was around a couple of years ago.”
For now, it’s up to Jones to prove himself yet again, and at least for now, it sounds like he’s been off to a promising start at this point in the offseason.
Patriots ‘Worth Considering’ For Hopkins
Breer also touched on the situation with free agent receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, who he feels that as the price has dropped, it could open the door for New England to potentially get into the mix.
“Who does that leave? Well, I think now that the price has dropped and a draft pick won’t be involved, the Patriots are worth considering,” writes Breer. “Despite perception out there, my sense is that O’Brien would be plenty on board with, not against, signing Hopkins (and Hopkins had his most productive years playing for O’Brien in Houston). The Browns are another team that’s been connected to him, because of Hopkins’s relationship with Deshaun Watson, but as it stands right now, I’d say that one’s unlikely.”
It’s tough to say how that might play out. One other interesting note is the fact that JuJu Smith-Schuster’s incentives were reported on Monday, which would require the veteran to amass 950+ yards in order to begin hit $750,000, with 1,100+ adding an additional $750,000.
Given that little bit of information, should Hopkins ultimately end up here, it could certainly limit the number of targets Smith-Schuster potentially sees this season.
Patriots Add Local WR
The Patriots made an announcement on Monday, announcing the addition of rookie free agent reciever, Ed Lee.
Lee is a product of the University of Rhode Island, with the 24-year old finishing his collegiate career with 86 receptions for 1,263 yards and 8 touchdowns, including 56 catches for 908 yards and 5 of those touchdowns coming last season.
The rookie free agent was a pretty dynamic for URI, with Lee lining up in various roles as the coaches tried to utilize his athleticsm, with Lee taking swing passes and then using his speed to break past defenders out in space.
With the Patriots trying to get faster and more dynamic, Lee could potentially be a player who gives them just that. This should be a fun training camp as they start sorting through an already deep group of guys who seemingly fit that description.
OTAs Open to the Media Today
Some good news as at least after today we’ll have yet another round of reports on this 2023 Patriots roster, with the media having access to today’s practice session.
Last week’s media availability saw both Belichick and various players speak to reporters, which gave us a llittle insight on things after a few months without football. Today should provide more of the same, which should provide some additional fodder for this week.
Posted Under: Patriots News