022 looks like it could be a tough season for the New England Patriots.
The 2022 NFL regular season schedule was released on Thursday evening, May 12 and Patriots fans continue to anxiously wait for Week 1 to arrive.
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But according to Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report, New England could struggle this year. He projects that the Patriots will go 7-10 in 2022.
Luckily for Patriots fans, New England wouldn’t be the worst team in the division in Moton’s view. The New York Jets are projected to go 6-11. The Miami Dolphins are projected to be slightly better than the Pats with a projected record of 9-8 and the Buffalo Bills are expected to reign supreme with a projected record of 13-4.
Significant Departures for New England
Moton believes that the departures of key players will hamper New England this season.
“The New England Patriots waved goodbye to key players, which raises some concerns,” Moton said. “The Patriots let cornerback J.C. Jackson walk in free agency, traded guard Shaq Mason and cut linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Also of note, they haven’t re-signed longtime Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower, whose best years may be behind him. All of those players logged a significant number of snaps last year.”
Jackson is the biggest loss for the Patriots. He was without a doubt the Patriots best cornerback. In the last two seasons, Jackson racked up 17 interceptions.
The loss of Mason can’t be understated either. The offensive lineman was a key part of the offensive line that is tasked with protecting Mac Jones. Heading into his second season, Jones will be forced to deal with less than stellar protection.
New England also has to deal with some losses on the sidelines. Josh McDaniels left the Patriots to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Jones will have to get used to a new offensive coordinator in an important season for the quarterback.
“Even if you disagree with B/R’s grades for the Patriots’ top picks, we can all acknowledge that former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel’s departure for the Raiders’ head-coaching job could be the biggest blow to second-year quarterback Mac Jones’ development,” Moton said. “In true Patriots fashion, the team hasn’t officially named a new offensive play-caller. Even in a committee approach, New England will find it difficult to replace someone who served 13 years at that position in Foxborough and helped Jones put together a solid rookie campaign.”
Moton also noted the Patriots poor draft could lead them to struggle in 2022.
“On top of that, the Patriots might have botched their draft this year,” he said. “They selected interior offensive lineman Cole Strange and wideout Tyquan Thornton in the first and second rounds, respectively. Bleacher Report’s scouting department had a third-round grade for the former and a fourth-round grade for the latter.”
With the departure of Mason, Strange has the ability to compete for a starting job right away. It will be tougher for Thornton to breakthrough considering New England has DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers already at the position.
“As one of the most accomplished head coaches in NFL history, Bill Belichick usually gets the benefit of the doubt,” Moton said. “But he has a background rooted in defense and special teams, so his team may struggle to score points.”