Some quick thoughts on this Tuesday:
1) It’s amazing how a rookie season where Mac Jones showed a lot of promise and upside still has so many questioning his future or long-term viability with the team.
Obviously, a lot of that stems from what went down on Sunday out in Kansas City when looking at both Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, who battled in what was clearly the best game of the weekend. After a terrific season by both players, they’re each at the top of the league in terms of being elite quarterbacks and there are a lot of things they do outside of what Jones does.
Still, Jones was far from the problem during the Patriots’ loss in Buffalo a little over a week ago and when you consider his entire body of work, there’s quite a bit to be optimistic about heading into 2022. He’s incredibly intelligent and there are plenty of intangibles that set him apart from quite a few quarterbacks around the NFL, which should set up an interesting sophomore season as he tries to take the next step with a full year of experience now under his belt.
I thought Greg Bedard said it best in a recent article when it comes to people’s opinion of Jones based on what we saw from this weekend. Some compared Jones to Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which Bedard felt is just ridiculous and he summed it up fairly well.
“If you’re one of these that wants to use this game to make a Mac Jones comparison, you need help,” wrote Bedard. “Jones is way ahead of where Tannehill was early. Jones is a QB with balls and smarts. Tannehill was always an athlete trying to learn to be a QB. Two entirely different types of players.”
You need a guy who can make smart plays and not bad mental errors that cost you the game. After seeing Jones as a rookie, it’s safe to say most fans should feel confident that he has the attributes to avoid moments like what we saw from Tennessee this weekend.
2) I still feel like Jimmy Garoppolo made a colossal mistake last year in not stomping his feet and forcing his way out of San Francisco. While Garoppolo finds himself heading back to the NFC Championship game with an opportunity to earn another Super Bowl berth, his future obviously remains extremely uncertain.
It’s clear the 49ers didn’t want him after last season and even now, they’re still likely not thrilled about him moving forward. That’s an absolutely terrible position to be in as a player, albeit some of it is self-inflicted due to the injuries he’s dealt with and some of the poor decisions he’s made at times out on the field. Failing to help his team score an offensive touchdown in Green Bay over the weekend certainly isn’t helping his cause.
Even if Garoppolo gets them back to Los Angeles in February, San Francisco gave up an absurd amount of draft picks to get Trey Lance and that fact isn’t going away. They’ve got far too much invested there, which is likely going to end Garoppolo’s time with the 49ers sooner than later.
Worse yet, he hasn’t played well enough to make the case that he deserves big money, nor has he proven worthy enough to walk in and be handed the starting role elsewhere, which doesn’t bode well for his future.
As a result, the fact he didn’t try and force a trade back to New England last year is clearly going to cost him. It’s no secret given what we heard prior to April’s draft that Bill Belichick would have liked to bring him back. The problem reportedly was the king’s ransom that Kyle Shanahan thought he could get and Belichick stayed firm and ended up landing Jones.
That slammed the door on the one team with a genuine interest in the veteran QB, and now Garoppolo finds himself on a team that doesn’t want him and he has absolutely no idea what his future holds.
For Shanahan, he also blew it because the 49ers will likely get nothing close to what they could have gotten for him during the offseason. To make matters worse, wherever Garoppolo goes, he won’t have anywhere near the same reception or support he would have had in the event he had made his way back to the Patriots.
Needless to say, it’s a massive missed opportunity for a player who is now stuck in a no-win situation. His best potential landing spot is gone, with his previous coach having landed what looks to be a better option with a bright future.
Meanwhile, Garoppolo is essentially left behind as he continues to deal with a tough situation that likely isn’t going to end well. Unless of course, he somehow manages to win a ring and it’s crazy to think that even that might not necessarily be enough to solidify his future.
3) Bedard also made a comment about Malcolm Butler during a weekly Q&A that was rather interesting.
To this day, we still know little as to what transpired that led to Butler’s benching against the Eagles in the Super Bowl years ago, but Bedard did shed a little bit of light on what may have happened.
He was asked if his lack of snaps in the Super Bowl was due to any off-field problems, or if the coaches were worried he’d be playing more for himself and his next contract.
“I think it was both, as I said at the time,” wrote Bedard. “On film, he was undisciplined and ripe to be taken by the Eagles’ read-option game. I think the Patriots demoted him to nickel (they did), he didn’t like it, mouthed off, and got benched outright.”
We didn’t hear about a verbal altercation involving the defensive back, but it sounds like Bedard may have heard that from someone. It’s obviously old news at this point but it still remains one of the more frustrating situations that has obviously never been addressed even after all this time.
4) One of the priorities this offseason should hopefully be moving on from former first-round draft choice N’Keal Harry and adding some firepower to New England’s current group of receivers.
Whether or not that can happen through free agency remains to be seen, but given New England’s change in draft philosophy, it might be interesting to see if they explore selecting one in April.
One thing Bedard also pointed out was the fact that Josh McDaniels has had some success in the past in evaluating players at that position, which he believes might make sense to have him potentially make the call with whoever they select.
“The Patriots have to find a way to draft an impact WR,” wrote Bedard. “They are growing on trees in college. Let McDaniels pick them. He found Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker his first shot.”
With Nelson Agholor likely in the fold for another season, having growth between he and Jones would essentially be the equivalent of an addition without having to make another change, as well as the fact that Jonnu Smith will also hopefully see more production after a quiet year one.
But adding some youth and speed to complement their existing group, especially at the slot position, is something they definitely need. We saw the impact Kristian Wilkerson made in his one game in terms of how it opened up things for other players, but his further lack of time on the field could potentially be due to his blocking ability in the ground game. He’s another name who could be interesting to keep an eye on over the offseason in the event he’s able to take the next step heading into 2022.
5) On Tuesday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott continued fielding questions about the decisions he made in how his team handled the final 0:13 of regulation and he didn’t offer any more clarity than he did after the loss.
McDermott still believes it came down to execution and his guys didn’t get it done.
“I’m still not going to get into the specifics on it.” McDermott said. “We didn’t execute… that’s really where I was after the game. That’s where I am now… We pride ourselves in detail. We pride ourselves in execution and being great in situational football, and we practice that tirelessly here.”
Josh Allen admitted that they spent much of the offseason focusing on improving to the point where they’d be able to beat the Chiefs in the event the two teams ended up meeting again in January – obviously they did – but they came up short again and they’ll head back to the drawing board.
“This whole offseason really was geared towards beating the Kansas City Chiefs,” said Allen. “We’re close, but close doesn’t cut it… We’ve gotta find a way to break that barrier.”
In the meantime, they’ll also quietly have the Patriots working on putting themselves back in position to knock them off, which will hopefully provide another obstacle for Allen and McDermott in 2022. We saw quite a few changes with personnel last offseason and we’ll likely see others in the coming months. Hopefully, it will be enough to get the Patriots back among the league’s elite, which as we’ve seen, certainly will be a challenge given what the level of play we saw over the weekend from both clubs.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary