While the New England Patriots’ first season in the post-Tom Brady era didn’t go well, the second saw them return to the playoffs. That progress has hopes for the team high despite the myriad changes on the roster and coaching staff.
The Patriots don’t expect any individual to replicate the impact Brady had on the franchise, but 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones gives the team hope for stability under center. Jones’ numbers won’t blow anyone away (67.6 percent completion, 3,801 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions), but his competency outstripped what the offense received the previous season from Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham.
Because of the improved play at quarterback and improvements elsewhere on the roster — primarily the free-agent spending spree that netted Matt Judon, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and others — the Patriots finished 10-7 and earned a wild-card berth. While they lost in the division round in resounding fashion to the Buffalo Bills and saw longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels depart for the Las Vegas Raiders’ head-coaching position, 2021 represented significant progress in New England.
The rebound season has put the Patriots among the favorites to win next year’s championship. The team currently has +2500 odds to win Super Bowl LVII.
New England Patriots Super Bowl 57 odds: +2500
The defense could look significantly different in 2022 depending on what the Patriots choose to do with their pending free agents. Stalwarts Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, and Trent Brown each will hit the open market without new deals, and young standout corner J.C. Jackson will have many suitors if he reaches free agency. However, with only around $7 million in cap space and limited flexibility to expand that figure, head coach Bill Belichick will have to make some tough goodbyes. Still, if the team retains Jackson and limits the bleeding elsewhere, a playoff run could materialize with improved play from Jones in his second season.
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