What are the Patriots doing differently?
Unlike most teams, the Patriots gave Mac Jones a well-built unit that even an average NFL quarterback could compete with. Mac Jones became a starter with a complete defense, elite coaching, an above-average offensive line, and excellent weapons.
Usually, when quarterbacks join a team straight from the draft, that team is riddled with any amount of talent that could make them a playoff contender. The higher you pick in the draft, the worse your roster likely is, making it more difficult to give a top quarterback a solid roster to work with. That happened this season to both Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson whose teams ended up back inside the top five picks of the 2022 NFL Draft.
While Lawrence and Wilson struggled to pull their teams out of the gutter Mac Jones took this Patriots team and led them to the 6th seed in the AFC and one game short of winning the AFC East.
New England did not just build this team overnight. They still had a solid roster from the Tom Brady era but did experience a substantial amount of roster turnover since Brady left. The Patriots have found a great mix of keeping solid veteran players who can contribute while drafting well and using free agency to their advantage.
The Patriots have drafted prepared a plethora of role players that, while not stars on their roster, can contribute at an NFL caliber level. Christian Barmore, Rhamondre Stevenson, Kyle Dugger, Michael Onwenu, and several other role players have been drafted by the Patriots in the last two drafts.
What the Patriots did so well was use all their cap space to not only solidify holes on the defense but transform their roster on offense to help Mac Jones at quarterback. Instead of making one splash signings, the Patriots signed four competent above-average skill position players.
Tight Ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith joined Wide Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor as first-year Patriots, and it has made an enormous difference. While there may not be a superstar there, it gave Mac Jones weapons all over the field that were at least slightly above average.