The 2023 season has arrived and with it comes the return of the Patriots Unfiltered Roundtable, where the PU writers weigh in on the key factors that will likely decide Week 1's matchup against the Eagles. This week, the PU crew gives their thoughts on training camp, lingering questions and the players they'll be watching this Sunday when they take the game field for the first time.
What is your biggest takeaway from Patriots training camp this summer?
Confidence in the defense, particularly the front seven. Patriots have added speed, versatility and the makings of what could be a formidable line. If the loss of Devin McCourty can be somewhat replaced with solid safety play and Christian Gonzalez can catch on sooner than later, we're looking at a top 5 unit. -Fred Kirsch
Bill O'Brien's imprint on the entire offense. The buy-in has been apparent all summer and everyone seems to be on the same page. – Paul Perillo
My biggest takeaway from Patriots training camp this summer is that the Patriots are paying the price for not appropriately addressing their tackle needs in free agency and the draft. Having a new offensive coordinator means nothing when you don't have a line to protect the quarterback so that he can make plays. -Tamara Brown
The offense is in a much better spot with Bill O'Brien at the helm, but again, the health and depth of the offensive line might be the team's biggest downfall this season. -Alex Francisco
I agree with the guys, Bill O'Brien's presence was a big factor but right now I'm going with just the overall uncertainty of what the Patriots will roll out on offense, both in a good way and a bad way. Hopefully it comes together like it looked on Day 2 of joint practices against the Packers. That Wednesday practice was the highlight of the summer, but tough to say what it will look like along the offensive line and how O'Brien will balance his weaponry. -Mike Dussault
The improvements from the offense under Bill O'Brien and the positive strides made by Mac Jones. We saw an offense capable of playing chess against a very good Pats defense in practice, while Mac looks much more comfortable and in rhythm. With that said, it's the honeymoon phase right now. Let's see what it looks like when they hit some adversity. -Evan Lazar
What is your biggest concern heading into the season opener?
The offensive line. Injuries never gave us a good look at the starting five during camp. That's not good for conditioning, cohesion and communication for Week 1. Quality depth at tackle is also an issue. If Mac Jones doesn't have time to execute, it could be a long day. -FK
Depth overall but specifically along the offensive line. Injuries hit that group throughout camp and now some of those guys will see their first game action on Sunday. -PP
My biggest concern heading into the season opener is Mac's protection. It was evident in the few snaps we saw with the starters in the preseason in addition to the offensive line that played with Bailey Zappe that whoever is under center will have a challenging season if they don't shuffle the deck and figure out the best configuration for the offensive line specifically right tackle and right guard. -TB
Protecting Mac. It's clear he's at his best when not pressured, and there are a lot of things to work out with the offensive line if the offense wants to get anything going in the air or in the run game. -AF
I think this one is obviously the offensive line, however if Strange and Onwenu can play a big chunk of snaps and Anderson holds up at right tackle I think they can really be okay. We just don't know who is ready to go and for how long. -MD
I'm still concerned about the overall ceiling of the passing offense. That goes for the quarterback, offensive line, and skill players. Yes, they're better coaches and in positions to succeed more often. But will that be enough? At the end of the day, the players need to go out there and win games. Can they keep up with other top offenses on the scoreboard? Can they find those clutch moments? We'll see. -EL
Name one new player, rookie or veteran, that you're most interested to see against the Eagles.
Demario "Pop" Douglas. If he can live up to the summer hype, it opens up options for Mac and the offense which desperately need someone who can get open quickly and consistently. -FK
Mike Gesicki. His athleticism is obvious and watching to see how O'Brien might incorporate him into the attack is something I look forward to. -PP
I am interested in seeing Kendrick Bourne against the Eagles. He had an excellent camp and is trending in the right direction to bounce back from his woes last season and have an electric year three for the Patriots. -TB
I can't wait to see Gonzo in action against one of the best teams in the NFL. Honorable mention to Keion White. -AF
Keion White. I'm not sure he'll play a majority of the snaps but even in limited action I'm excited to see how well his physicality translates at the NFL level, especially against an excellent offensive line. -MD
It's Marte Mapu. How do they use him, as a safety or linebacker? Will he get some reps spying Jalen Hurts? It seems like this is the type of matchup they drafted him for to improve against mobile QBs. Let's see them use him accordingly. -EL
Name one player on each side of the ball that you think will be key to the team's success this weekend.
Offense: Mac Jones. Whether or not he gets the help from his line, can he adjust on the fly to what could be relentless pressure from the Eagles' D.
Defense: Kyle Dugger. It's still unclear exactly what the role of each safety will be, but there's no doubt someone from that corps will have to help out close to the line when Jalen Hurts opts to run or the play breaks down due to good coverage. I'm guessing Dugger will have a role in that. -FK
Mac Jones is the answer on offense. He needs to deal with the pressure and avoid negative plays to keep the offense moving. Defensively I'll got with Matthew Judon. He needs to make Jalen Hurts uncomfortable and perhaps force some mistakes. -PP
The key to the offense's success this weekend will be the offensive line as a whole. If they struggle to protect Mac Jones, the offense will not be able to stay on the field. On the other side of the ball, Christian Gonzalez will be the key to the team's success. If the Eagles try to take advantage of him being a rookie and inexperienced and succeed at it, it could be a long night for the first rounder. -TB
Matthew Judon leading defense around a formidable Eagles o-line to pressure Jalen Hurts feels crucial. And of course, Mac Jones. -AF
No question it's Mac Jones on offense. Can he get them into the right plays, the right protections and get the ball out quickly to his playmakers? That is the key. Defensively, I'm going with Christian Barmore, I think immediate interior pressure is the way to disrupt Philly's offense and force mistakes. Barmore had a couple moments in the summer but was fairly quiet. I think he could remind us of all the promise he flashed as a rookie. -MD
Offensively, I'm going with tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki. The Eagles defense has new faces at slot corner, linebacker, and safety bringing into question their ability to cover the middle of the field. I expect the tight ends to have opportunities. On defense, Kyle Dugger. He has the highest expectations in terms of replacing Devin McCourty and could be a big part of their plan to slow down the QB run game. -EL
How can the Patriots defeat the Eagles?
Defense is successful on early downs and gets off the field enough that the Patriots offense gets plenty of chances. It might be a slow start for Mac and company so keeping it close early will be key. Oh, and limit the mistakes we've seen the last few years. -FK
The Patriots need to put some points on the board and make the Eagles play from behind. That starts with winning on early downs to avoid obvious passing situations on offense and to force Philly into them on defense. -PP
The Patriots can defeat the Eagles by being competitive on offense and eliminating errors on special teams. Last year special teams struggled tremendously between botched punts, bad field position and missed tackles; which they cannot afford against the defending NFC Champions. Also, facing a team that is equipped to score every time they get the ball, the Patriots are going to need to be able to go toe to toe with them in the redzone and get points on the board; specifically touchdowns and not just field goals. -TB
With a signature Patriots defensive performance that scores points and shocks the world. -AF
The Eagles will land some punches and the Patriots will have to as well if they want to win this one. If the Pats are to win it's likely a back-and-forth game with scoring into the 20s. The offense will have to produce touchdown-scoring drives multiple times. -MD
Get the Eagles early-down offense off schedule. If they can get Philly into longer down and distances, I like their chances to stop Hurts in the drop-back passing game. But they must stop the run/option football on first and second down to force the Eagles to beat them with traditional passing concepts. -EL