Patriots Fans May Not Enjoy Pro Football Focus’ ‘Bold Predictions’

PFF aren't entirely optimistic on New England, to say the least

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Training camp is a time for optimism for NFL franchises, but Pro Football Focus had a different view for the New England Patriots.

Through the start of training camp, PFF has released a “bold predictions for every NFL team in 2022” series. In his write up for the AFC East, Sam Monson gave three predictions for the Patriots, and his first prediction was: “This will be the worst defense Belichick has ever had.”

“The NFL grew accustomed to the idea of The Patriot Way, and the fact that Bill Belichick was such a good coach that he could grab cast-offs and misfits from around the league, plug them into his defense and coax performances out of them that made the rest of the league wonder what it was missing,” Monson wrote Tuesday. “In recent seasons, there have been fewer of those standout players within this defense.

“Last season, only Adrian Phillips earned a PFF grade of 80.0 or better, and he was at exactly 80.0 overall. In 2011, the Patriots allowed 244 points and ranked 22nd in that category. That was arguably the worse defense Belichick has fielded as a head coach. This unit will be worse, heaping pressure on quarterback Mac Jones and the offense.”

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Belichick has heaped plenty of praise on Jones through the offseason, and there has been much debate over whether the Patriots signal-caller can make a second-year jump. For Monson, he’s pessimistic about the idea.

“Jones may be getting lots of training camp hype, but his job will be harder in his sophomore year,” Monson said. “First, the departure of Josh McDaniels, his 2021 offensive coordinator, is huge. Much is being made of the fact that the Patriots aren?t technically employing an offensive coordinator in 2022, but the bigger issue is that one of the best isn?t there anymore, and the most likely replacement (Matt Patricia) is wearing multiple coaching hats and has more of a defensive background. Jones needs to find consistency and a little more aggressiveness as a passer this season, and that will be a lot harder to achieve minus McDaniels.”

The Patriots will hope offseason acquisition DeVante Parker can be an upgrade, but as Monson noted, what New England’s offensive play calling will look like will be a big factor in Jones’ development.

Monson wasn’t all doom-and-gloom about the Patriots. His last prediction was: “Damien Harris will have 1,200 rushing yards.” He noted New England’s offensive line is “built to run the ball.” For those interested, DraftKings Sportsbook has set Harris’ rushing total prop at 825.5, and the Over is priced at +100, meaning a $100 bet on the Over would pay out $200.

Monson noted in the intro to the article that these predictions will likely carry a low hit rate, but they are backed up by data and are not just hot takes for the sake of hot takes. But Patriots fans will likely hope most of these predictions don’t end up being correct.

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