The 2023 season hasn’t gone as expected for the New England Patriots.
Those that expected the team to be competitive in the AFC East are likely surprised to see them sitting at 2-5 with little hope of competing for a playoff spot.
But even the team’s biggest skeptics didn’t expect to see them sink to the bottom of the division with talks of them being in line for a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL draft. There’s obviously the possibility of things changing with the Patriots coming off a huge upset win over the Buffalo Bills.
If they can somehow beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the schedule will lighten significantly, and they’ll have a real chance to start racking up wins. It’s a long-shot chance that’s heavily dependent on the players’ ability to elevate their game down the stretch.
Let’s take a look at the stock report for 12 Patriots players ahead of their Week 8 clash with the Dolphins. Who’s up and who’s down in New England?
Stock up: QB Mac Jones
Seven weeks into the season, and we still aren’t any closer to finding out if Mac Jones is or isn’t the guy in New England. Everyone clearly has an opinion on the matter, and those opinions vary as much as Jones’ play on the field.
Some flat out think the third-year quarterback stinks, while others tend to place the blame more on the lack of weapons around him. The good news is he didn’t turn the ball over in Week 7, and he outplayed Josh Allen to lead the Patriots to a major upset victory over the Buffalo Bills.
As long as the offensive line does its job and receivers get open, the arrow is pointing up on Jones.
Stock up: LB Anfernee Jennings
Anfernee Jennings is showing the world what he’s capable of when he’s healthy. Not only has he shown the ability to impact the game as a pass-rusher, but he’s also a reliable playmaker on the early downs, when teams tend to run the ball.
Overall, Jennings is proving himself to be a great fit for the Patriots defense as a player that can stay on the field for multiple downs
Stock up: WR Demario Douglas
Demario Douglas is the Patriots’ best receiver.
He’s the one player on the field with the ability to consistently separate from defenders. How many times have we seen Mac Jones standing in the pocket like a statue, desperately waiting for someone to get open?
Douglas is one of those rare rookies who figured things out from the start and made an immediate impact on the team.
Stock down: OL Vederian Lowe
Opportunity came knocking for Vederian Lowe with Riley Reiff’s injury and Calvin Anderson struggling at right tackle. Lowe, a sixth-round draft pick, failed to break out with the Minnesota Vikings, which prompted the team to trade him to the tackle-needy Patriots.
Unfortunately for Lowe, the results have been disastrous so far. He has struggled in pass protection and even gave up the game-ending sack on Mac Jones in Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) October 15, 2023
The arrow might be pointing down on Lowe, but there’s hope he can turn things around considering he’s only a second-year player in the NFL.
Stock up: OL Trent Brown
Trent Brown is quietly having one of the best seasons of his NFL career. He’s currently the highest-graded offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus.
His incredible season has been overshadowed by the offensive line struggles for the Patriots. Injuries and inconsistent play at other positions has the unit looking like one of the worst in the league.
But Brown has been one of the few constants along the offensive front. Nothing helps a quarterback sleep easier than knowing he has reliable blindside protection. Mac Jones should be sleeping like a baby knowing a dominant player like Brown is on the line.
Stock up: S Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers has been one of the most improved players on the Patriots’ entire roster this season. He has become a difference-maker on the backend of a defense that no longer has Devin McCourty at the safety position.
Peppers picked off Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen last week, and he decleated Las Vegas Raiders All-Pro receiver Davante Adams so violently that it caused a pop-up interception.
Most expected it to just be The Kyle Dugger Show at safety, but Peppers is another player opposing offenses must take into account when game-planning against the Patriots.
Stock up: CB J.C. Jackson
J.C. Jackson fits Bill Belichick’s defense like a glove.
Since being traded back to New England, it really does feel like he never left. The unit was in danger of falling apart with season-ending injuries to rookie Christian Gonzalez and second-year defensive back Marcus Jones. But Jackson being back gives the Patriots a legitimate No. 1 corner, along with Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones.
Even with so many losses, it’s still one of the better defensive groups in the league. Jackson’s return looks like one of the best in-season moves Belichick has ever made.
Stock up: OL Mike Onwenu
Mike Onwenu wasn’t off to the best of starts, following a season where he was one of the best guards in the league.
He came falling back down to Earth at the worst possible time for the Patriots’ makeshift offensive line. But then he showed off versatility when being slotted in at right tackle with great success.
Onwenu was coming off an ankle injury entering the season, which could explain his sluggish start. The decision to move him to right tackle could be one of the main factors that changes the outlook of the entire season for the Patriots.
Stock down: DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker was a non-factor in Week 7, and the Patriots still beat the Bills. That isn’t a good sign considering he was expected to serve as the No. 1 outside receiver for the team with JuJu Smith-Schuster manning the slot.
Neither player has panned out for the Patriots.
Instead, the team has shifted focus to their younger and faster receivers. Parker has never been a great separator, but he has shown the ability to win some jump-ball situations. Unfortunately for the Patriots, those moments haven’t been often enough.
Stock up: Christian Barmore
Talent has never been a question for Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore. It’s all about him staying healthy long enough to put the pieces together.
Granted, he has been banged up this season, but he’s managed to stay on the field for every single game. He’s a legitimate disruptor up front with high-end pass-rushing and run-stuffing abilities.
A day is coming when Barmore will routinely be mentioned amongst the best defensive linemen in the league. He’s only scratching the surface this season.
Stock up: Pharaoh Brown
Who tops all tight ends in overall Pro Football Focus grade? If you answered Pharaoh Brown, you get a gold sticker.
Brown has filled in nicely as more of a traditional tight end option. He’s a bruiser as a blocker with the ability to make the occasional play as a receiver. He plays his role so well that defenders seemingly forget he’s on the field.
Not catching Pharaoh Brown!
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2023
The veteran tight end has a perfect five receptions on five targets for an average of 27.4 yards per reception. There has been so much talk surrounding Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki that no one ever stopped to think how big of an impact Brown could make on the team.
Stock down: Josh Uche
Josh Uche hasn’t worked in New England this season.
That isn’t so much of an Uche problem as its a scheme fit problem with the team. There’s a reason why his name keeps popping up in trade deadline discussions.
The Patriots would be better off with an every-down, all-around sort of player that can play against the run and pass. Meanwhile, Uche needs a defense that allows him to just pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. Both could get exactly what they need by the October 31 deadline.