The New England Patriots got their first win in Week 2 on the road against a hobbled but game Pittsburgh Steelers team. The victory wasn’t pretty, but we saw more consistent play from the defense and some improvements on the offensive side of the ball.
Patriots QB Mac Jones didn’t have his best game, which is becoming fairly common dating back to last season, so the second-year quarterback was the target of a few harsh critiques after the game.
The words would have been rougher if the Patriots had lost the Week 2 matchup. Jones answered some friendlier questions on Monday from Audacy’s WEEI 93.7 (Boston) as a guest on Merloni, Fauria, and Mego. Jones was asked about the challenge of spreading the ball around to his various targets.
Based on his answer, it appears this is perhaps one of Jones’ biggest challenges.
Mac Jones: ‘I Only Have 1 Ball’
“I only have one ball, which is always frustrating for me,” Jones said. “Like, I wish I had three, so I could throw it to all the guys because they’re always usually open. I have one choice to make, and I’m being told sometimes, ‘this is my read, this is what I’m going to do,’ and sometimes it’s that game you play. Like, ‘Oh, all I saw is this.’ Then you watch the film, and it’s something else. It’s always that game as a quarterback.”
The Patriots don’t have a definitive No. 1 receiver or a tight end on that level. However, Jones does seem to default to his ever-steady slot target Jakobi Meyers whenever he’s in trouble. With the current modest crop of weapons at Jones’ disposal, it’s understandable for him to be a little indecisive when deciding where to go with the ball. Despite what he says, all of his receivers aren’t always open.
DeVante Parker, the man the Patriots traded for in the offseason with the hope that he would become the team’s no. 1 guy, is notorious for not creating much separation between him and his defender. Jones’ attempts to connect with Parker on 50-50 balls have gone notably bad, with two of the passes being intercepted.
Unless someone emerges as a legit No. 1 guy, Jones will probably continue having some frustration in this area.
Where Are the Patriots Tight Ends?
Dating back to the start of the 2021 season, the Patriots’ tight ends were supposed to be major pieces of the offense. While Hunter Henry had a strong season in 2021, leading the team in TD receptions, Jonnu Smith had a disappointing first year with the Patriots.
Hopes were high for him to join Henry as a productive player in a two-tight-end look, but in 2022, neither man has been a factor in the passing game.
Combined, Henry and Smith have five receptions on 11 targets for just 53 yards. This isn’t what most expected from the duo when Bill Belichick and Co. doled out big free-agent dollars to Smith and Henry the last offseason. It seems Henry understands the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint; thus, he still hopes that he and Smith will be more prominently featured in the team’s offense.
“It’s going to come, man. I’m not worried about it,” Henry said. “We’re all working through things offensively, and we were able to string a lot of good drives together yesterday.”
Alas, it’s still early in the 2022 season, and there is still time for both men to make their presence felt in the offense. If the Patriots’ attack is going to reach its potential, they will need more from the tight ends.