The New England Patriots 2023 season has mercifully come to a conclusion. Gillette Stadium played host to a snowy meeting between the Patriots and the visiting New York Jets on Sunday. The Jets ultimately prevailed 17-3 in an offensive struggle for no teams. The loss leaves New England with a final record of 4-13 on the season.
Ten takeaways from Sunday’s game:
Matthew Slater’s Final NFL Game
By all indications, 2023 will be the final season for Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater. That meant Sunday was the final game of his illustrious career. His parents were at the game, and the Patriots players wore sweatshirts honoring Slater pregame. If this was the end for Matthew Slater, he would retire having played more games for the New England Patriots without ever playing for another NFL franchise.
264 Matthew Slater
229 Devin McCourty
219 Bruce Armstrong
212 Julius Adams
212 Troy Brown
211 Tedy Bruschi
190 John Hannah
181 Steve Nelson
180 Kevin Faulk
175 Matt Light pic.twitter.com/YpUtr5QgoJ
— Dan Kelley (@DanKelley66) January 7, 2024
Slater won three Super Bowls, was twice named first-team All-Pro, and was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection. Slater has as good of a Hall of Fame candidacy as any special teams player in NFL history.
More importantly, Matthew Slater is one of the most professional and classy athletes Boston has ever had the pleasure to enjoy. He has won the Ron Burton Community Service Award from the New England Patriots. His peers voted him winner of The Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award, for character and leadership on and off the field. Matthew Slater won the Starr Award in 2016, 30 years after his Hall of Fame father Jackie Slater won the award as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Bill Belichick’s Final Game in New England?
Reports have swirled for weeks that Bill Belichick’s time in New England was coming to an end. A pregame report from Jay Glazer stated that Glazer thinks Belichick is done in New England. The broadcast team of Chris Myers and Robert Smith treated that opinion as a fact all game. Is Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England over? Maybe. But there is plenty of time for that announcement to become official either way.
Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft will have their annual postseason meeting later this week. An announcement about his future with the team will likely be made official after that meeting. There is no need to rush to conclusions, as tempting as it has been for many throughout the season.
New England Clinches a Top 4 Pick
With the loss to New York, the New England Patriots draft position in the first round is officially in the 2-4 range. The position will not be finalized until after the Washington Commanders and Arizona Cardinals games are completed later on Sunday. For the Patriots fans hoping the team focused on a high draft selection, those wishes came true. Whether or not that was the intention of the team is another story. But New England will be primed to add to the overall talent of the team for next season with the highest draft pick they’ve had in 30 years.
Awful Offense Once Again
The Patriots record was awful in 2023, but it was not because of their defense. The defense played well nearly all season, but the offense was downright dreadful. The season finale was no different. The Patriots put three points on the board all afternoon, against a Jets team that was also playing for nothing but pride. Some numbers from Sunday’s loss:
New England converted 1-of-14 third down attempts.
Bailey Zappe finished 12-of-30 passing. He threw for 88 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions.
The Patriots had 119 yards of total offense on the afternoon.
A fitting end to the 2023 season as far as the offense was concerned.
Barmore Plays Like a Pro Bowl Player
Christian Barmore was not named to the Pro Bowl, but Barmore had a Pro Bowl caliber season for New England. Against New York he was dominant once again. Barmore finished with 10 tackles (six solo), two TFL, and a QB hit. The defense was the brightest spot of the team this season, and Christian Barmore was the brightest spot among the group. Locking him up longterm should be a top priority for whoever is making personnel decisions in Foxboro next season.
The 2024 New England Patriots Season Begins
With the 2023 regular season over, the 2024 season begins. Decisions need to be made about the coaching staff and front office. Several key players head to free agency, and building a competitive roster (offense) is imperative. The 2024 NFL Draft is the most important one for the New England Patriots in 30 years. Games are done for now, but there is plenty to keep Patriots Nation busy for many months to come. My apologies in advance to the lovely Mrs. Kelley.