Categories: Sports

On the Field with the Patriots: Best Players and Season Prospects in 2023

On the Field with the Patriots: Best Players and Season Prospects in 2023

The New England Patriots are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the National Football League (NFL). They have won six Super Bowls, 11 AFC Championships, and 22 AFC East titles since 2000. However, after a disappointing 8-9 season in 2022, the Patriots are looking to bounce back and return to the playoffs in 2023.

Quarterback: Matt Corral

The Patriots drafted Matt Corral in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, hoping to find their franchise quarterback of the future. Corral had a stellar college career at Ole Miss, where he threw for 4,383 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only four interceptions in his senior season. He also ran for 506 yards and four touchdowns, showing his dual-threat ability.

Corral has impressed the Patriots coaching staff with his arm talent, accuracy, mobility, and leadership. He beat out veteran Trace McSorley for the starting job in training camp and has shown flashes of brilliance in his first eight games.

Matt Corral’s 2022 season was a disappointing one for the rookie quarterback and the Carolina Panthers. Corral, who was drafted in the third round out of Ole Miss, suffered a significant foot injury in the preseason that required surgery and sidelined him for the entire year Corral was expected to compete for the backup role behind starter Sam Darnold but instead had to watch from the sidelines as the Panthers finished with a 6-11 record Corral was waived by the Panthers at the end of the season and claimed by the New England Patriots.

Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott

The Patriots made a surprising move in August when they signed former Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year deal worth $3 million. Ezekiel Elliott’s 2022 season was a disappointing one for the star running back, who was traded from the Dallas Cowboys to the New England Patriots in the offseason. Elliott struggled to find his rhythm in a new offense and battled injuries throughout the year.

He finished with 876 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 231 carries, averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per attempt. He also had 59 receiving yards on 13 catches but failed to score a touchdown through the air.

Elliott’s best game of the season came in Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders, when he rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and added 15 yards on one reception.

However, he also fumbled once in that game, one of two fumbles he lost in the season. Elliott’s 2022 season was a far cry from his previous years when he led the league in rushing twice and made four Pro Bowls. He will hope to bounce back in 2023 and prove that he is still one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Wide Receiver: Juju Smith-Schuster

The Patriots signed Juju Smith-Schuster to a three-year deal worth $25.5 million in March, hoping to add firepower to their receiving corps. JuJu Smith-Schuster had an impressive 2022 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, helping them win Super Bowl LVII.

He joined the Chiefs as a free agent after four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he established himself as one of the best young receivers in the NFL.

Smith-Schuster was a reliable target for Patrick Mahomes, catching 73 passes for 927 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 12.7 yards per reception and had a catch rate of 79.3%. He also had some clutch moments in the playoffs, such as his game-winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game.

Smith-Schuster signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs, trading on himself to have a bounce-back season after a disappointing 2021 campaign with the Steelers. He proved his worth and earned a lucrative contract with the New England Patriots in the 2023 offseason. He will join a revamped offense led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones and veteran tight end Hunter Henry.

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Tight End: Mike Gesicki

The Patriots signed Mike Gesicki to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million in March, hoping to improve their tight end position. Mike Gesicki is a tight end for the New England Patriots in the NFL. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft and played for them until 2022 when the Dolphins tagged him and traded him to the Patriots before the start of the season.

Gesicki is known for his receiving skills and ability to line up in different positions on the field. He has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league since 2020 when he had a breakout season with 703 yards and six touchdowns on 53 receptions. In 2022, he played under the franchise tag for the Dolphins, earning $10.9 million.

He had 362 yards and two touchdowns on 41 catches in seven games before being traded to the Patriots, where he has formed a dynamic duo with rookie quarterback Mac Jones. In his first three games with the Patriots, he has caught nine passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

He scored the game-winning touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7, but he was not happy with his celebration, which he called “embarrassing”.

Offensive Line: Riley Reiff

The Patriots signed Riley Reiff to a one-year deal worth $5 million in March, hoping to bolster their offensive line.

Reiff has been a critical piece for the Patriot’s offensive line in 2023, anchoring the left side and protecting Corral’s blindside. He has started all eight games at left tackle and has allowed only one sack. He has also acted as a run blocker, opening lanes for Elliott and the other running backs.

He has brought his experience, toughness, and consistency to the Patriots offensive line, which has been one of the best units in the league. Reiff has been a valuable addition to the Patriots offense and a stabilizing force for Corral.

Defensive Line: Marquan McCall

The Patriots have a solid defensive line that can stop the run and pressure the quarterback. One of the players who has impressed in this unit is Marquan McCall, a second-year nose tackle who was claimed off waivers from the Carolina Panthers in August 2023.

McCall was a standout at Kentucky, recording 71 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in his college career. He made the Panthers’ final roster as an undrafted rookie in 2022 and appeared in 15 games, registering 15 tackles and a fumble recovery.

McCall is a massive presence in the middle of the line, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 379 pounds. He has the strength and leverage to clog up running lanes and push back blockers. He also has surprising quickness and agility for his size, which allows him to chase down ball carriers and disrupt passing plays.

He is a versatile player who can play in different schemes and alignments, as he did at Kentucky and Carolina. He is expected to compete for a rotational role behind starter Davon Godchaux and backup Byron Cowart on the Patriots’ defensive line.

Summary

The Patriots are a team that always finds a way to win despite facing adversity and challenges. They have a proven head coach in Bill Belichick, who knows how to maximize the potential of his players and adjust his game plan according to the opponent. They have a balanced offense that can run and pass efficiently, led by veteran quarterback Cam Newton and young star Mac Jones.

They have a formidable defense that can shut down opposing offenses, featuring some of the best players in the league at their positions. They have a favorable schedule that gives them a chance to win their division and secure a playoff spot. The Patriots are a team that should not be underestimated or overlooked in the 2023 season, as they have the talent, experience, and motivation to compete for another Super Bowl title.