New England Patriots: Confidence Meter for each position group

Through three games, the New England Patriots appear to have some significant issues.

The Patriots’ latest defeat came against the New Orleans Saints. New England played poorly offensively and the defense was unable to get a big stop when they needed it the most. The Patriots need better performances from everyone, but some position groups need more work than others. With that in mind, I wanted to go over my level of confidence for each position group.

I’ve given each position group a score between 1 and 5: 1 means I have absolutely no confidence in the position group to play well moving forward and 5 means I have the utmost confidence in the position group to play well moving forward.

New England Patriots Confidence Meter


Confidence Meter: 3.5

Mac Jones has played far from perfect football to kick off his rookie season, but at the same time, he hasn’t exactly been in the best situations to succeed. 

The lack of quality pass protection, in particular, is a big hindrance to any quarterback, but especially a rookie playing in his first NFL action. Additionally, Josh McDaniels lack of creativity, particularly in the red zone, has been an issue.

Despite the factors going against Jones, he can still help his cause by seeing the field better. There have been times when Jones has missed an open receiver or simply declined to pull the trigger.

Still though, my confidence level for Jones moving forward remains fairly high. Why? Because when Jones has been kept clean he’s proven to be a productive NFL quarterback. 

Jones is going to make mistakes, that’s the nature of starting a rookie quarterback, but he’s going to grow as the season goes on. Nobody should be giving up on Jones yet. No matter how poorly you may think he’s played through three games, the other starting rookie quarterbacks have played worse. It takes time to adjust to professional football. Give the rookie time and I believe it’ll work out.

Running Back (Including Fullback)

Confidence Meter: 3

With James White healthy my confidence in this group would be much higher, but as Ian Rapoport reported, White is out indefinitely. That leaves Damien Harris, J.J. Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden manning the running back responsibilities.

Harris will remain the lead back, but who takes over the White role is yet to be seen. Bolden received White’s snaps against the Saints, but that will likely change moving forward. 

If I had to guess, I would imagine Taylor will see an increase in snaps. Taylor has proven to be a decent pass-catcher, he’s a hard runner, and he’s very shifty. Think of Taylor as a Dion Lewis-type player. The rookie Stevenson will also see an uptick in action.

All in all, New England still has the backs to be a productive group, but losing White is significant. White simply does everything he’s asked to do at a high level. Plus, if New England were to suffer another injury in the backfield they would be incredibly thin at the position.

Wide Receiver

Confidence Meter: 3

On paper, the Patriots have a middling wide receiver group, but they’ve played fairly well thus far. Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor have all had their moments. That’s not to say they can’t be more productive, but their flashes of productive play give me confidence they can be an average to above-average receiving core the rest of the 2021 season.

Keep in mind, two out of the three top wideouts on the roster are new additions to the team. Theoretically, Agholor and Bourne should only get better as they spend more time in the offense.

Again, this isn’t going to be an elite group and their depth is lacking, but the top three guys can play. 

What prevents me from having even more confidence in the group is that they just don’t have that number one guy that can consistently win one on one matchups and that adds a little bit of worry. Still though, I think this ends up being a pretty solid group.

Tight End

Confidence Meter: 3.5

Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith have not played well yet this season. Smith, in particular, has had multiple drops and has not been a good run blocker. The lack of production at tight end has been one of the more disappointing developments so far this season.

So why then would I have a decent amount of confidence in the group to play well the rest of the season? Simply put, I think Henry and Smith are extremely talented and will play much much better. It’s hard to imagine a guy as talented as Smith will continue with this kind of lackluster play.

Just like with Agholor and Bourne, it’s imperative to give Henry and Smith time to gel in the system before writing them off as free agent busts.

Interior Offensive Line

Confidence Meter: 3.5

The offensive line has been flat-out bad, and while that includes the interior group, I don’t think their problems are near as bad as the offensive tackles.

David Andrews has had his fair share of struggles and so has Shaq Mason, but because they’ve had so much NFL success previously, I think they can turn things around. Meanwhile, Michael Onwenu has been the Patriots’ best offensive linemen through three games. Onwenu is one of the best young offensive linemen in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Patriots have high-level talent on the interior and their problems are much more fixable than the current issues at tackle.

Offensive Tackle

Confidence Meter: 2

Getting Trent Brown back, whenever that may be, will help greatly, but even then I’m not sure it solves all the problems New England has at tackle. Isaiah Wynn has played very poorly to start the 2021 season. Wynn has already given up 10 pressures in pass protection according to Pro Football Focus. His run blocking hasn’t been much better either.

What further brings down my confidence is the injury history of both Brown and Wynn. Brown has already been hurt this season and Wynn has never played a full NFL season in his career. 

If either misses more time, New England will have to continue to rely on Justin Herron and Yasir Durant. Herron and Durant have struggled in their time on the field.

Interior Defensive Line

Confidence Meter: 2.5

It’s hard to get a read on the Patriots’ interior defensive line this season. Just look at the Saints game for example. For most of the game, the interior defensive line was brilliant in bottling up Alvin Kamara. 

Unfortunately, though, the group struggled to stop New Orleans on the ground when it mattered most late in the fourth quarter. The run defense has had its down moments this season, despite all the additions over the offseason to improve last year’s porous front.

I like the potential of Christian Barmore and I think Davon Godchaux is going to be an asset, but the run defense feels like it will be an issue this season. Could the group end up being a strength? Sure, but it’s hard to say that confidently.


Confidence Meter: 4

Matthew Judon is a big reason for the high confidence in the New England edge group. Judon already has 14 pressures and 4 sacks this season according to Pro Football Focus. When a defense has a pass rusher that can regularly win one on one matchups it’s hard not to feel confident in that group.

Furthermore, Josh Uche has looked promising in the two games he’s played. Uche, like Judon, wins a lot of one on one matchups when pass rushing. Kyle Van Noy can add a lot to this group as well. Ultimately, I like the potential of this group, particularly as pass rushers.


Confidence Meter: 3

When looking at the linebacker position, it’s important to remember that safeties Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger both play in the box a ton. Because those two are so good in linebacker roles it gives me hope the group can stay above average.

As for the more traditional linebackers, Ja’Whaun Bentley is playing solid football. He looks more instinctive than he ever has before in his career. Meanwhile, Dont’a Hightower seems to be a bit rusty after not playing last season. 

It will be very interesting to see if Bentley can continue his good play and if Hightower can get back to playing like his old self. Because there are multiple unknowns there it’s hard to go any higher with my confidence meter than a 3.


Confidence Meter: 3

The Patriots corner group reminds me of the New England wide receiving group. On paper, it’s a middling unit, but they’ve played rather well this season.

J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, and Joejuan Williams haven’t looked overmatched, even without Stephon Gilmore. To be fair though, New England hasn’t yet faced a high-level passing attack. Next week against the Buccaneers will be a good test.

I remain skeptical that the corner group, as it stands right now, can hold up against elite passing attacks. However, they’ve proven that they can at least hold up against average to slightly above average passing offenses. That alone will get you through a number of games. 

If Gilmore comes back healthy my confidence level will go up, but it’s hard to know how Gilmore will come back after missing so much time.


Confidence Meter: 4.5

Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, and Adrian Phillips are a ridiculously good safety trio. McCourty is an elite deep safety while Dugger and Phillips play all over the field whether it be in the box, slot corner, or deep safety. New England has three legitimate starting-level safeties. 

The versatility from Dugger and Phillips allows Bill Belichick to get creative on the back end. We’ve seen New England play with three safeties a ton so far this season.

The New England safety group is the heart and soul of this Patriots defense. 

Special Teams

Confidence Meter: 4

Jake Bailey and the kick and punt coverage teams have had some poor moments this season, but I have faith they can clean those issues up. 

As for the field goal side of things, Nick Folk is as reliable as they come. Folk hasn’t missed a field goal this season. It’s very easy to have confidence in his abilities.

3 thoughts on “New England Patriots: Confidence Meter for each position group

  • September 28, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Coaching: 2.75
    Teams are going after Mac. Josh has to figure out a way to make them pay.

    • September 28, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      I agree! Belichick needs to step it up before the standoff against Brady.

  • September 28, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Good article! I agree with most of your points, I have less faith in TE than you. Think we over paid for both of them…
    More faith in the backs, Harris is a stud!
    Coaches need to step it up they are holding back, that needs to stop this week!


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