Some news and notes on this Saturday:
Jets Game a Critical One For Jones
This is clearly a big week for New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who had a disastrous return last Monday night against the Bears in his first game action since getting hurt against the Ravens in Week 3.
After getting pulled following the third series where he threw an ill-advised interception, Jones was booed off the field and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines.
From there, he watched his backup, Bailey Zappe, quickly score on back-to-back drives, only to see the Bears adjust as they shut the Patriots’ offense down for the rest of the game, ending New England’s two-game winning streak.
Belichick tried to play it cool on Wednesday when it came to the plan at quarterback, before ultimately revealing on Thursday that Jones took the majority of the workload the day before and would be starting Sunday. As expected, he said little in terms of what happens beyond this weekend.
For Jones, this game will hopefully yield different results. He played just 16 snaps Monday night, completing 3-of-6 for 13 yards passing with one interception, with the team running the football on the other nine plays, which included Jones scurrying away from what ended up being an early onslaught by Chicago that had them coming after him.
Overall, he looked relatively fine running with the ball but went down for a sack on the lone play where he was forced to his left, which is the leg he injured against the Ravens.
One report Friday night by Mike Giardi revealed that the second-year quarterback is dealing with numbness in his toes, which while not enough to sideline him is something he’ll have to deal with. But reports this week seem to be positive and Jakobi Meyers said this week that Jones seems especially focused heading into Sunday.
“He’s normally pretty locked in,” Meyers said Friday via NESN’s Zack Cox. “But this week, he definitely kicked it up a little bit. I’m excited for him to go out there and just show everybody what he can do.”
This is a huge game for New England, with the team trying to dig its way out of the cellar in the AFC East. At 3-4, a win would get them back to .500 and slow down a Jets team that’s 5-2 heading into this contest. The Patriots have dominated this match-up in recent years, having won 12-straight meetings going back to 2016 and they absolutely blew them out in their second meeting last season, winning 54-13 at Gillette Stadium.
There was also some bad blood between the two sides after that game. Between the frustration over what they felt was a late hit by Matthew Judon on Zach Wilson, along with Wilson suffering a knee injury that knocked him out of the game, the outcome left Jets players upset about the fact they felt the Patriots ran up the score.
Needless to say, they’re coming into this game with a massive chip on their shoulder while playing in front of the home crowd. As a result, while the Jets are normally the perfect team to try and get right against, this one might end up being a little tougher than some might think.
Let’s hope Jones is ready for it. Fortunately, at least this time, he won’t have his own fans booing him on Sunday.
Jets Pleading with Fans To be Loud
One sort of funny note is the fact that while Jets fans claim to be die hards, they apparently have the reputation for wandering into the stadium well into the first quarter, long after the ball has been kicked off.
The team noted one big example of that a few weeks ago in their last home game, which saw Sauce Gardner put a big hit on Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in a moment that set the tone for the game in a blowout win by the home team.
Unfortunately, most of the fans were in the parking lot still tailgating and missed it, and now the club is trying to address it by running a campaign aptly named “Get in Before it Begins.”
That will reportedly include some pregame festivities such as fireworks, but head coach Robert Saleh said the bottom line is the fact they need fans in the seats before kickoff to give his team energy to feed off of.
“It’s a big deal to have fans in the building right from the get-go,’’ Saleh said via the New York Post on Friday. “Football is an emotional game, and you feed off the energy of the crowd. All of it is real. And the fans are a big part of it because of the energy they can bring on game day.’’
Yet another reason to roll your eyes for a fan base that apparently is so used to being at the bottom of the standings that they’ve missed out on the early success their team has enjoyed so far.
Barmore, Dugger Out For Sunday
One quiet note heading into this week is the fact that Christian Barmore will be out yet again after missing Monday night’s game against Chicago, and that potentially poses a problem against a Jets team that had been running the football fairly well behind Breece Hall.
Unfortunately for New York, Hall went down with a torn ACL last week, which ended his season. The team then made a move after having recently acquired James Robinson from the Jaguars to try and hopefully help them in that area.
While Robinson is a bit of an unknown at this point, it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve seen a notable drop off up front with Barmore sidelined and the Patriots defense will have to try and overcome that again this week.
Also missing for the Jets is top wideout Corey Davis, who is expected to miss the game due to a knee injury. Davis had been a productive player for them this season, having led all receivers with 19 catches for 351 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Patriots also ruled out Kyle Dugger on Saturday, which is another blow to the defense. They’re also expected to be without center David Andrews, who has also been ruled out ahead of Sunday’s game.
His loss will likely see James Ferentz step in again after Ferentz took over against the Bears, but it may hurt them in the ground game as Andrews’s nastiness has made him one of the best among New England’s linemen when it comes to running the football.
However, one bright spot is they’re expected to get a key addition back in wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who is reportedly set to return this week after he missed Monday night’s game with a toe injury.
Rodgers Continues Being Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly never ceases to amaze.
Two weeks ago, after losing a tough one to Washington, one point of emphasis he talked about was how important it was to keep things in-house and not “break ranks” by saying things outside the locker room that could cause a problem.
So much for that notion.
It was bad enough Rodgers literally broke his own rule seconds later that day when he talked about the fact he believe the team needed to make the offense “simpler,” something that caught head coach Matt LaFleur completely off guard when he was asked about it later. “I have no idea what that means,” he told reporters.
After dropping yet another game last Sunday, Rodgers spent this past week breaking his own rule again, calling out teammates by saying he felt guys who were making mistakes should see their playing time cut.
“It’s definitely not just one play here or there,” Rodgers said via ProFootballTalk.com. “It’s 20 percent of the time. If we have 50 plays and we have 10 missed assignments or mental errors, that’s 20 percent of the time. So that’s way too high. In the past we were looking more like, less than 10 percent, so that gives us a really good chance to be successful. 20 percent, that’s way too high. That’s one play a series where you’re really making it tough on yourself. So we’ve got to fix that. I think guys who are making too many mistakes shouldn’t be playing. Gotta start cutting some reps. And maybe guys who aren’t playing, give them a chance.”
He doubled down on those comments the next day when questioned by reporters.
“People in this society have a hard time hearing truth sometimes,” Rodgers said, clearly missing the point that he himself had made previously. “I’m not saying anything [publicly] that I’m not saying to those guys. So, maybe that’s talking about a conversation that’s behind closed doors in public, but the level of accountability is the standard here. Again, I don’t think it should be a problem to any of those guys to hear criticism. We all hear criticism in our own ways, and we’ve all got to be OK with it and take it in and process it. And if it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t fit. But if it fits, we’ve got to wear it and improve on those certain things.
“I’m not going to be a robot up here. I don’t understand why people have a problem with things that are truthful. You know, I’m calling things the way I see it. If people don’t think I need to air that stuff out, that’s their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interests of our guys, and I’ve tried a lot of different things from a leadership standpoint this year. And I was relating my personal feelings on the situation. I didn’t call anybody out by name.”
Apparently, when Rodgers talked about not breaking ranks, he believes he’s the general. And there’s your glimpse inside the disfunction that continues to see him be his own worst enemy.
Not all Bills Fans Are Happy with New Stadium Plans
Fans in Buffalo got a look at the potential new Bills stadium this week, but apparently, not all residents in Orchard Park are thrilled with what they saw.
Given the cost of the new venue, estimated at $1.4 billion, many don’t seem to be thrilled with spending $850 million in public funding on a stadium that will see limited use outside of football season due to the harsh Western New York winters, which they argue also limits surrounding businesses.
For that reason, many seem to be fairly vocal about the fact they believe a retractable roof should be under consideration.
“Why can they make that decision?” said executive director for the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce, Don Lorentz via WGRZ. “Why can’t it be retractable so we can get 12 months out of the year?”
The obvious argument is that leaving it as an open-air space certainly maintains the competitive edge the Bills have playing in tough conditions, but still limits how many events can be scheduled after the home games end in what will typically be no later than January. Given that the weather doesn’t tend to improve until late spring, that’s where the frustration seems to sit with most people.
The current design calls for an overhang over the seats, which according to the renderings covers about 60%. That seems to shield most of the upper deck, but seats located closer to the field are then exposed.
It’s hard not to agree with some of the residents given that when you look at how it’s designed, including a retractable roof certainly does make some sense. It also would open the door for hosting a Super Bowl, which would certainly provide a boost for those hoping to more quickly recoup their investment.
Only one open-air stadium in a cold weather city – MetLife Stadium – has had that honor in recent years, and the exception was likely made due to the fact it was at least in New York City. It’s doubtful many people outside the region are going to make the trek in February to spend a few days in Buffalo only to freeze. Not unless the Bills end up being fortunate enough to be a part of it.
This conversation will likely continue for a while, with no agreement having yet to be reached.
A decision is reportedly not expected to be finalized until at least December.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Season
Tags: Aaron Rodgers Buffalo Bills Green Bay Packers Mac Jones New England Patriots New York Jets