Some thoughts on this Wednesday afternoon:
1) There was some good news on Wednesday after New England Patriots center David Andrews was spotted back at practice. The veteran hasn’t seen the field since taking a vicious shot near the end of the Chicago Bears game three weeks ago, which saw him sustain a concussion.
The hit came on an ugly play where Bears defensive tackle Mike Pennell blindly hit Andrews as he was in pursuit following an interception by Bailey Zappe during what turned out to be a frustrating 33-14 loss on a cold, rainy night at Gillette Stadium. Pennell hit Andrews, who never saw him coming, and completely blew him up, with the New England center hitting the turf in a heap before eventually leaving the game.
With Andrews out of the line-up, that’s resulted James Ferentz filling in at center, which has definitely seen a drop-off in production up front. New England has struggled quite a bit running the football in his absence, with defenders also having success bringing pressure inside in the passing game.
Andrews’ presence back at practice is definitely a positive sign, and the fact he has an additional week to continue recovering here during the bye should also help. He’s quietly one of New England’s most important offensive linemen, and his return will hopefully give this team a spark that’s been sorely lacking while he’s been out of the line-up.
2) Speaking of the offensive line, after rewatching several games from last season, it’s hard not to wonder whether or not more changes might be coming, especially considering the issues the team has dealt with all season at the tackle position.
One of the biggest problems has obviously been on the right side, as Isaiah Wynn, his ridiculous number of penalties not-withstanding, has had a miserable year on that side for the Patriots. Looking at the film, while Wynn didn’t exactly have his best year in 2021, he still looked far more comfortable on the left, and the Patriots often gave him help by lining Jonnu Smith alongside him, with Trent Brown lined up on the right. Brown certainly had plenty of success on that side of things and a lot of the issues the team seems to be dealing with this year certainly weren’t as big of an issue.
When the club opted to make the change this season, it was likely done in hopes of trying to free up Smith to become more of a factor in the passing game, which still to this point hasn’t been the case. Instead, it sort of feels like that by trying to fix one problem they’ve created a bigger one, and whether or not they can figure out a solution over the break is obviously now the next question.
The idea of them switching the two guys at this point would probably be a little tough, especially for Brown who has settled in fairly well on his side of the field. That now leaves Wynn, who by all accounts certainly didn’t ask for and is still struggling with this move, in a tough spot heading into the rest of the season.
Either way, it’s a problem that isn’t going to solve itself, and while getting Andrews back will help this group somewhat, it still remains a key area to watch over these final eight games.
Bourne’s lack of involvement in the offense remains puzzling. (PHOTO: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)
3) It’s a little hard to believe that the club has played nine games and Kendrick Bourne is currently sitting with just 14 receptions for 167-yards. Through nine games in 2021 Bourne had 29 receptions for 422-yards along with two touchdowns, so this year has clearly been quite the disappointing turnaround for a player who finished second on the team in both receptions (55) and receiving yards (800) last year.
The issues reportedly started in training camp when it was clear that his role was going to be diminished due to how they seemed to be planning to use DeVante Parker this year, but so far that whole plan hasn’t quite worked out. Prior to his injury, Mac Jones had seen four of his initial five interceptions come when targeting Parker, with quite a few plays called that had the second-year quarterback having to look to Parker’s way.
That’s probably not quite what they had in mind and, as a result, it hasn’t turned out to be one the most productive of decisions, regardless of which player was on the wrong side of those miscues.
For a team in need of more points and more production, whether or not Bourne is more involved in the second half of the season is definitely something that’s going to be interesting to keep an eye on.
4) One of the biggest bright spots this season has been the emergence of Jonathan Jones, who has built on the momentum he put together before getting hurt last season, and he’s become one of the Patriots’ most valuable defenders in the secondary.
Jones has been terrific in coverage this season and has been one of the key reasons behind New England’s success in their defensive backfield. He’s currently tied with the team lead in interceptions with Jack Jones, Devin McCourty, and Jalen Mills with two interceptions, and he’s taken on quite a few assignments covering some of the league’s best receivers. Granted, some of that success has come as a result of how well they’ve been able to challenge opposing quarterbacks, but at the same time, he’s absolutely stepped up in some key situations.
His blocked punt on Sunday was massive, as it helped set up a touchdown for the Patriots offense and kept them in control of the football game. It’s also clear how well-liked he is in the locker room, and hopefully, they find a way to keep him in the fold beyond this year.
Jones is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and, if ever there was a player who deserves to be rewarded with an extension, Jones is certainly the guy.
5) Christian Barmore didn’t play this past Sunday but most reports continue to be positive on him potentially returning after the bye, which will hopefully help shore things up on the other side of the line. Barmore has missed the past two games, which has seen two strong performances along the Patriots’ defensive line, albeit they came against two teams who each had a hard time running the football.
His loss has been tough on this group, which will now hopefully get one of its best defenders back when they face the Jets a little less than two weeks from now. On of his other attributes has been his ability to get pressure inside, which is going to be important as the Patriots get set to take on quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, Joe Burrow and potentially Josh Allen during what’s arguably going to be the most difficult stretches of the season.
For a team that’s still trying to figure things out on the offensive side of the football, points will likely remain at a premium and this is a group that’s done a tremendous job all year of keeping them in games.
Should Jones and the offense potentially start hitting their stride over the next month and half, it could be a group that could make things interesting. Either way, getting Barmore back is a nice start, and it would be great to see some complimentary football in the coming weeks as New England begins what will hopefully be a playoff push over these final eight games.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Season
Tags: Christian Barmore David Andrews Isaiah Wynn Jonathan Jones Mac Jones New England Patriots