A year after making the playoffs with a 10-7 record behind a rookie quarterback, the New England Patriots went home earlier than expected in 2022. They went 8-9 to miss the postseason for the second time in three seasons as they had several frustrating ups and downs throughout the season.
Here are the five biggest players or things that were the most disappointing for the Patriots this season.
The veteran defensive back entered the 2022 season as arguably the Patriots’ top corner. He definitely didn’t play like it, though.
Mills had some rough games this season, confirming some concerns about him being one of the team’s starting outside corners following the departure J.C. Jackson. He allowed a pair of receptions, including a 42-yard touchdown grab, to Jaylen Waddle in Week 1. Diontae Johnson and others combined for 90 receiving yards against Mills in Week 2.
Jaylen Waddle makes his presence felt with a long TD before the half pic.twitter.com/sKoYpyScQB
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) September 11, 2022
Mills played a bit better as the season went on but still had some bumps along the way, allowing a handful of key receptions to the Minnesota Vikings for one.
Mills’ season, unfortunately, ended on a bit of a damper as a groin injury cost him the final six games of the season. Maybe he could’ve helped with his physicality in both losses to the Buffalo Bills and in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. But nonetheless, Mills was probably the most underwhelming player a Patriots’ defense that was filled with pleasant surprises.
Trent Brown and Cole Strange
Count me as one of those people that thought switching Brown from right tackle to left tackle would’ve worked. now that we have a full season under our belts, I was wrong.
After a rough Week 1 that saw him allow a strip-sack that turned into a touchdown, Brown had a steady September and October. But for some reason, when Mac Jones came back from injury for good in Week 8, Brown’s play dipped again. He gave up a handful of pressures in the Patriots’ first game against the New York Jets and gave up a couple sacks in their second game against them. He struggled in both games against the Bills, allowing four pressures in both games.
Watch David Andrews. He turns to his left. Andrews (C), James Ferentz (LG) and Trent Brown (LT) have the Miami DT, DE and either the Mike or Sam (No. 29) if one rushes. Three for three.
Andrews has DT. Ferentz has DE. Brown’s man comes up with the sack. pic.twitter.com/6z7gPI62o7
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) September 11, 2022
And that’s before we mention the penalties. Brown was called for 13 penalties this season, tied for the second-most in the league. His five false starts were also the second-most in the league, essentially giving the defense a free 25 yards before the snap this season.
As for the guy next to Brown, he struggled a bit more. Like Brown, Strange had a strong showing in the first couple games of the season. But then he allowed four sacks in six games, leading him to get benched twice in the middle of the season.
Strange bounced back a bit at the end of the season, allowing just one sack in the final nine games. However, the left guard still had a couple of games were he allowed at least four pressures, providing instability to Jones’ blindside.
The entire Patriots receiving group outside of Jakobi Meyers
When one of your running backs leads the team in receptions, it either means that your running back is either a really good receiver or your receivers aren’t that good. Rhamondre Stevenson is certainly a good receiver for a running back, but for the Patriots, it was definitely more of the latter than the former.
Entering the season, the Patriots’ receiver room was viewed as maybe not the most elite, but received praise for their depth. Very rarely did we see that depth at full force this season though as Meyers was the only wide receiver or tight end to record at least 45 receptions or 600 receiving yards.
DeVante Parker didn’t live up to the third-round pick tag that the Patriots traded to get him, finishing with 31 receptions for 539 yards and three touchdowns, which were all some of the lowest number’s he’s had over his eight-year career.
Nelson Agholor had the fewest receptions (31), receiving yards (362) and receiving touchdowns (two) in a season since his rookie year in 2015. He also struggled to get on the field on a consistent basis and a lot of that production came in Week 2, when he had six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Nelson Agholor absolutely HAS to come down with this catch. This is the second week in a row that Agholor has dropped a catchable ball that was then intercepted pic.twitter.com/RbuQMMX1Xj
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) October 9, 2022
Kendrick Bourne was viewed as a breakout candidate this season. While some of that isn’t his fault (more on that soon), he didn’t live up to that billing. He had 38 receptions for 434 yards and a touchdown and even though he wasn’t on the field as much this season, he did seem to make some mistakes (such as fumbling the ball or committing penalties) more often than he did in 2021.
Second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton missed the first four games of the season due to a collarbone injury, but still finished with just 22 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Several film breakdowns throughout the seasons showed Thornton constantly breaking at the wrong point of his route, running the wrong route or miscommunication with the rest of the offense. He provided some pop at the end of the season, but still didn’t show enough prior to it.
How’s this happen?!?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/b2J8WyEwyU
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) December 26, 2022
Even the tight ends struggled, too. Hunter Henry had his fewest receptions (41) and receiving yards (509) since his rookie season and his two receiving touchdowns were the lowest of his career. That was the same case for Jonnu Smith, who had 27 receptions for 245 yards and didn’t find the end zone once this season.
So yeah, the production from the Patriots’ receivers and tight ends didn’t match the price tag of being one of the most expensive in football.
The second-year quarterback was certainly far from the Patriots’ biggest problem this season, but he wasn’t blameless, either.
Mac Jones threw seven interceptions in the first three games of the season, part of the reason why the Patriots fell to a 1-2 hole. He looked shaky in his first few games back from injury, throwing an interception in games against the Bears and Jets. He also had an awful outing against the Raiders when his offensive line played well against a struggling defense, completing less than 50 percent of his passes in that game.
One-handed!@JaquanBrisker gets the INT. 🙌
📺: #CHIvsNE on ESPN
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/2HQeNdaFPc pic.twitter.com/4r3PeOsdHe
— NFL (@NFL) October 25, 2022
Jones certainly had some bright moments this season, such as his final two games of the season. But there was enough bad in there to make some fans think he might be the quarterback of the future.
The Patriots’ offensive coaching staff
It was a failure from the top down on the Patriots’ coaching staff this season, starting with Bill Belichick. The head coach confusingly gave Matt Patricia and Joe Judge the biggest responsibilities on the offensive coaching staff this season as Patricia called plays and Judge was the quarterbacks coach.
Between the two of them, they had a combined two seasons of coaching in the offense in the NFL. Their inexperience showed as they were commonly critiqued for their simple play designs, which saw the Patriots holding a top-10 offense in many stats and metrics in 2021 to holding one of the worst offenses in the league in 2022.
Mac Jones regressed under their watch as a result and his physique had to have been messed up after Belichick pulled him after three drives in his return from an ankle injury in Week 7. It might not have changed the final result much, but Belichick treated that 33-14 loss to the Bears like a preseason game with the way he handled the quarterback situation.
And this is before mentioning all of the costly mistakes they made throughout this season, whether it be penalties (like a running into the punter against the Vikings) or literally throwing a game away against the Raiders.
CHANDLER JONES. GAME-WINNER.
ENOUGH SAID. pic.twitter.com/cmKNUuskfs
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2023
The Patriots weren’t a well-coached team this season, and they certainly played like one.