3 Massive Questions Facing New England Patriots For 2024 NFL Season

Drake Maye, New England Patriots
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots find themselves in an unusual position entering the 2024 NFL campaign: rebuilding mode.

A Patriots franchise that dominated the AFC East (and the NFL) for the better part of two decades has now been relegated to an afterthought, and now, New England must start all over again.

Gone is Bill Belichick, and in is Jerod Mayo as a new regime has taken over in Foxborough. The Pats have also changed quarterbacks again with the Mac Jones experiment failing and the Drake Maye era about to get underway.

No one is expecting the Patriots to contend for much of anything this coming season, so there won’t be much pressure on them. However, some progress is expected.

Here are a few huge questions New England must answer this autumn.

Which players will emerge as legitimate offensive weapons?

The Pats were essentially bereft of offensive weapons in 2023. They had no running game, their receiving corps was awful and they got very limited production from their tight ends.

Of course, not having a quarterback didn’t help, but it was also pretty evident that the Patriots were severely lacking at the skill positions overall.

New England was hoping to land Calvin Ridley in free agency, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the Pats settled for K.J. Osborn and also selected a couple of wide outs in the NFL Draft—Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker.

Both Polk and Baker are coming off of terrific seasons at their respective colleges, so at least one of the two—if not both—could emerge as big targets for the Patriots in 2024. There is also second-year receiver DeMario Douglas, who flew under the radar with a solid year last season.

The problem is that none of these guys are proven, so New England is banking on potential. It’s hard not to like the talent at the position, though. You have to figure that someone will stand out.

As for the Pats’ ground game? They will be rolling with Rhamondre Stevenson again, who had a miserable 2023 campaign after a couple of strong seasons to begin his career. Not sure he is a legitimate featured back going forward, but we’ll see.

Is Jerod Mayo ready to fill those gigantic shoes?

Say what you want about Belichick, but he guided the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships and nine Super Bowl appearances throughout his 24-year run as head coach. Throw 17 division titles in there, too.

Yes, he had a rather poor run over his last few years in Foxborough, but regardless of how things ended, he is still an all-time great coach, so Mayo has a tough act to follow.

A change was probably needed for the Pats, as Belichick was clearly getting stale and the players were no longer responding to him like previous groups. Plus, even his scouting and player development was starting to fade. But is Mayo the right guy for the job?

The Patriots decided to promote Mayo from within rather than going outside the organization, which isn’t too surprising given how New England typically operates.

Mayo definitely deserves a grace period, as he is taking over a pretty bad team. However, we’ll probably get a decent idea of what he’s made of in 2024.

Will Drake Maye play at all in 2024?

The Patriots selected Maye with the third overall pick of the draft in April, but there is no guarantee he will start. Heck, there is no sure thing he will even play this coming season.

New England signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency, and by the looks of it, he will end up being the starting quarterback for the Pats in Week 1.

Maye is very raw, and if Mayo’s comments on him during offseason workouts were any indication, he is not ready for the NFL just yet. Plus, he doesn’t exactly have a strong cast of characters around him.

If it seems clear that the Patriots are once again lacking legitimate weapons and their offensive line looks shaky, don’t be surprised if Maye doesn’t see the field at all in 2024.

New England does not want to repeat the same mistake it made with Jones. It is surely going to be very careful with Maye, as it will obviously want to avoid ruining its investment.

There were some who really didn’t like Maye’s mechanics heading into the NFL Draft, similar to Jones. Meanwhile, there were others who felt he may have been the best quarterback talent in the class.

We’ll see what approach the Pats take with Maye come September.

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