Phil Perry

2023 Patriots Report Card: Final grades for each position

Not all position groups shouldered equal blame for the team's struggles.

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Change is afoot in Foxboro.

The expectation from those in the building is that Bill Belichick won't return as Patriots head coach in 2024, which would mean a new leader in the personnel department in addition to a new head coach. That new leadership would need to decide how to proceed with a host of pending free agents who made key contributions in 2024, as well as who to select with the team's highest first-round draft pick since 1993 at No. 3 overall.

Determining the best course of action also includes a complete evaluation of the 2023 season, which ended Sunday in a 17-3 loss to the New York Jets.

So before we dive into what's next in New England, let's wrap up the 2023 campaign with our final Report Card, featuring two sets of grades for each position: one set specific to Week 18 and another all-encompassing set for Weeks 1 through 18.


Week 18 Grade: F

Season Grade: D

A brutal finish to the season in brutal conditions contributed to a brutal season-long grade. More questions than answers at this position for the Patriots headed into the 2024 offseason.

Running back

Week 18 Grade: C

Season Grade: B-

A ho hum performance in the season finale won't necessarily do anything to alter the picture for the Patriots at this position this offseason. Rhamondre Stevenson finished the season banged-up but is under contract.

Whoever is running the front office will have two real decisions to make: 1) How do they add a third-down back? 2) Should free-agent-to-be Ezekiel Elliott -- who played hard and produced consistently both as a runner and receiver -- be a part of the room moving forward?

Wide receiver

Week 18 Grade: C+ 

Season Grade: C- 

Jalen Reagor made explosive plays as a receiver and a runner (on a rare Bill O'Brien-called reverse) against the Jets, but hard to say he's established himself in any way for 2024.

DeMario Douglas is arguably the team's best receiver already and a potential Year 2 jump awaits. The team needs all the help it can get here.

Tight end

Week 18 Grade: C

Season Grade: C+

Pharaoh Brown's on-the-field scuffles could've cost the team against the Jets, though it wouldn't have impacted the outcome ultimately.

None of the team's top-three players here are under contract for 2024, though there's a strong argument to be made that Hunter Henry -- a captain this year -- should be back to help the impending rebuild.

Offensive line

Week 18 Grade: F

Season Grade: D

Seven sacks allowed Sunday. Long day for this unit. Long season. It's a position group that never found its footing, hoping that Calvin Anderson and Riley Reiff would provide the team with real tackle options opposite Trent Brown.

Injuries derailed the start to the year. Adrian Klemm dealt with a serious health issue that knocked him out of action. They scrambled the rest of the year. 

Special teams

Week 18 Grade: B-

Season Grade: C- 

Not a horrible day against the Jets. Chad Ryland made his only kick. Bryce Baringer blasted a couple of punts. But it was a season that left plenty to be desired. They finished the year ranked 28th in special teams DVOA.

Defensive line

Week 18 Grade: C+

Season Grade: B+

Though Christian Barmore was once again dominant (team-high 10 tackles, two for losses, one quarterback hit), Sunday was a down day for this unit relative to what they've been used to.

They allowed 185 yards rushing in the snow (4.4 per carry) to bring their per-carry average on the season to a still-very-impressive 3.3 yards. That figure was tops in the NFL this season.


Week 18 Grade: C+ 

Season Grade: B+

The linebacker unit of course deserves plenty of credit for this team's work against opposing running games. They looked beat up, understandably, during Week 18.

But for the season, it was an impressive year. Anfernee Jennings came on strong as an edge-setter. Jahlani Tavai and Ja'Whaun Bentley functioned as versatile enforcers to play on and off the line. If and when the Patriots part with Bill Belichick, it'll be interesting to see how this position is shaped moving forward.


Week 18 Grade: B+

Season Grade: B-

Alex Austin... have a day. He allowed two catches on five targets and helped force three different completions with tight coverage against the Jets.

There's investment coming at both corner and safety -- they'll have to figure out, for instance, whether or not Kyle Dugger will be re-signed -- but even if a corner is added, perhaps Austin deserves a real look in training camp to show he can be a steady contributor. His arrow seemed to be pointing up by the end of the year for a team that needed corner help badly.

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