2. Lacking reinforcements in the secondary
Belichick is famous for his ability to scout talent in the secondary, yet despite this, the Patriots are heading into 2023 a little thin on cornerbacks and safeties.
Devin McCourty’s retirement will have a seismic impact on the secondary, as he served as a veteran presence who was able to guide the young crop of cornerbacks and safeties on the field.
Beyond what the Patriots lose with McCourty, they also face another obstacle: height. The Patriots’ secondary doesn’t have the size to cover big receivers in man coverage, which contributes to the fact that the team has gradually been playing more zone coverage over the past four years.
As Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar put it, “Belichick’s defense is at its best when it has a Stephon Gilmore, Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, or Ty Law-level talent at outside corner to play man coverage.”
The Patriots need to get back to their best selves, which means they need an outside cornerback who can steadily lock down players in man coverage so Belichick can run five-man rush packages and cover zero rather than staying in soft zones. This will also help players like Jonathan Jones get back to what he’s best at, which is covering the slot.