Boomer Esiason at a Loss to Explain Patriots’ Juju Smith-Schuster Decision

Juju Smith-Schuster

Juju Smith-Schuster

Count Boomer Esiason, a 14-year veteran of the NFL who has four Pro Bowl selections to his credit, among those who can’t quite understand what Patriots honcho Bill Belichick was thinking when he declined to re-sign wide receiver Jakobi Meyers this offseason and instead pursued veteran Juju Smith-Schuster in free agency. Chances are, you are with him on that.

Asked about the decision on WEEI’s Greg Hill Show Monday morning, Esiason was at a loss. “I can’t answer that,” Esiason said. “I don’t know why he chose the way he did.”

Initial returns on the decision are especially poor, in part because Smith-Schuster didn’t have much to offer on Sunday against Philadelphia, and in part because Meyers (who signed on to be the No. 2 receiver in Las Vegas) was outstanding in helping the Raiders to a come-from-behind win over Denver.

All told, Smith-Schuster had four catches for 33 yards in his first game for New England, and was not on the field at all during the final Patriots drive. He played 43 of the Patriots’ 80 offensive snaps, fewer than the 55 played by rookie Kayshon Boutte, and just 10 more than the team’s other rookie wideout, Pop Douglas.

Belichick attempted to squelch any controversy about the move quickly. “We had different groups, different rotations, so we’re good with whoever is in there,” Belichick said.

Meyers & Smith-Schuster Part of Thin FA Class

Back in March, Meyers hit free agency and there was an expectation that he could land a contract in the $15-20 million per year range, one that would be too expensive for the Patriots, despite Meyers’ status as the team’s best wideout.

But Meyers’ deal wound up ringing in at only three years and $33 million from the Raiders, which appeared to be cheap enough for the Patriots to match and welcome Meyers back. He had a team-high 67 catches and 804 yards as a receiver last year, with six touchdowns. Instead, New England let Meyers walk.

The next day, the Patriots signed Smith-Schuster to a three-year deal, originally reported at $33 million, though it is a bit less than that, according to Spotrac. Meyers, saw the report from insider Ian Rapoport, who also wrote, “A big investment.” In response, Meyer tweeted, “Cold world lol.”

But the chemistry Meyers showed with Garoppolo in Week 1 should warm him right up. That was what stood out to Esiason.

“It’s Week 1 so we got a long way to go, and Jakobi and Jimmy looked like they’d been together for 10 years yesterday even though they scored only 17 points,” Esiason said.

Esiason on Mac Jones Comebacks

Esiason was also asked about Mac Jones, who was especially hard on himself in his postgame presser on Sunday. Jones has been carving out a good NFL resume early in his career, but one thing he has been unable to do is mount any consistency when it comes to late-game comebacks.

Esiason said that Jones probably would have had a comeback on his ledger on Sunday if the Patriots’ receivers had come through.

Boutte, especially, was criticized for not getting his toes in bounds on a fourth-down reception with less than 30 seconds to play.

“Yesterday, I thought he was in the midst of doing that. He had one dropped pass, hit guy right in the chest, and then Boutte was unable to keep his feet in bounds,” Esiason said. “These are the little things that great wide receivers do, guys like Edelman and Wes Welker, and you take a look at when they had Randy Moss. … Those are things that those wide receivers and anybody who has to catch a pass, really, has to practice and do practice every single day. And then when the game comes, it should become second nature.

“It’s too bad that Boutte couldn’t get that second foot down, because I think Mac was in the middle of orchestrating a comeback, and played a really tough game yesterday. I think he’s on the right path.”

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HiRobert Hughes
HiRobert Hughes
14 days ago

Can’t blame the receiver,d b made the history prevent 2nd foot landing in bounds