The New England Patriots have had some of the NFL's most explosive and highest-scoring offenses over the last two decades. The 2020 version is sagging behind immensely.
This year's Patriots offense has many issues, but the biggest problem is probably a glaring lack of high-end talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end -- aka, the skill positions.
One anonymous NFL executive put it bluntly when describing the absence of offensive talent in New England.
"It's the worst group of skill players in the NFL, and you should probably put skill players in quotes," an exec who has faced the Patriots told CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. "That has to be the slowest offense in the league."
Wide receiver is the area in need of the most improvement.
Julian Edelman has been a reliable target in the passing attack and an elite playoff performer, but he's been ineffective and inconsistent for most of the 2020 campaign. The 34-year-old wide receiver has tallied seven receptions for 66 yards and zero touchdowns over the last three games.
Second-year wideout N'Keal Harry was expected to take a major leap after injuries hampered him as a rookie. He's been unable to make a meaningful impact, however, with only 18 receptions for 166 yards and one touchdown through five games.
New England's group of tight ends is even worse. The Patriots had the fewest receptions by tight ends of any team last season. That's the case in 2020, too, with Patriots tight ends hauling in only six passes through six weeks. Ryan Izzo. who was a seventh-round draft pick in 2018, leads Pats tight ends with six receptions for 82 yards.
The Patriots actually have decent depth at running back. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White and Damien Harris all are capable of having good weeks. None of them are game-changers, though.
The 2020 NFL trade deadline is set for Nov. 3, so the Patriots have less than two weeks to find offensive upgrades before the playoff race really heats up. If the Pats don't add a wide receiver or tight end before the deadline, their offense will continue to struggle and might even cost the team a playoff spot.