DO YOUR JOB
An Account of the 2022 New England Patriots Season
Chapter Two - In's and Out's
Last week’s entry was a heartfelt one. You learned about my fandom, where it came from, and how it has evolved over the past few years. Now, it’s time for the good stuff, as the 2022-23 season is just weeks away.
This was an interesting off-season for the Pats, and let’s kick off our second edition with some In’s and Out’s of the roster. There were some head scratchers, some moves nobody saw coming, and some things that just needed to happen. But all things considered, for the first time in quite a while, there isn’t a clear answer on “did this team get better?”
Here are a few of the moves Bill Belichick and company made over the past few months.
Out: Chase Winovich
Winovich was a gamble as an outside linebacker/edge rusher. While his two years in New England were solid, it was very much an identity crisis for Winovich as he struggled to find his role, despite a clear need. Some days were excellent for Chase, and others were dreadful. Dealing Winovich to the Browns is Bill Belichick’s last straw, and his comfort with Matt Judon and Josh Uche prevails.
Also, Winovich called his trade to the Browns “the best thing to ever happen to him.” I’ll hold the door for you on the way to Cleveland, Chase.
In: Mack Wilson
The haul for Winovich is Mack Wilson, who immediately is a candidate for meaningful reps at the off-ball linebacker role. He played over 1500 snaps with Cleveland in three years, so he’ll absolutely be favored over a very youthful MLB core that includes Anfernee Jennings, Cam McGrone, and Harvey Langi - all considered stop gaps until someone like Wilson came along. Wilson also immediately adds Special Teams depth, both on the punt and punt block units.
Out: JC Jackson
This one stung. Jackson was an undrafted free agent in 2018, and a true success story for New England. He was a key role player in the 2018 season (the year NE won the Super Bowl), grabbing three picks as a depth free safety at most. His next three seasons saw great improvement, and he finished his time in New England with 25 picks. But that success is almost never sustainable enough for a big contract, according to BB, and his $82.5 million contract with the Chargers ensures he won’t be back for a while…if ever.
In: Jabril Peppers
What happens when one Super Bowl champion leaves? You replace him with a Michigan man, of course. Jabril Peppers, a former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, signed with the Pats after three seasons with the Giants. A strong safety who is equally as much of a threat to sack the quarterback as he is to intercept him, Peppers gives the Pats some supplemental help vacated by Jackson and others. He also is the top candidate to return punts and kicks.
Out: N’Keal Harry
Thank Christ! This was one of the worst stints of anyone to wear the red white and blue, in my opinion. A six-three receiver, you’d think Harry would instantly make an impact. Instead, it was dropped passes, horrid routes, and even worse run blocking. He requested a trade last year, only to be scoffed at. Now, he’ll rot in Chicago and pray Justin Fields gives enough of a crap to look his way.
In: Devante Parker
Parker, on the other hand, is what Harry could have been. An excellent deep threat and a good blocker, Parker has been a reliable WR2 or 3 in Miami for the past few years, and now gets a shot to take on some more receiving opportunities this season. Parker may even be considered the WR1 for now.