Some thoughts heading into the New England Patriots showdown in the desert:
1) The big topic continues to center around Mac Jones’s outbursts in recent weeks, but oddly enough, this isn’t a new phenomenon.
Anyone who goes back and looks at last year’s film will notice there were even a couple of quiet flare-ups between Jones and Josh McDaniels last season, albeit there certainly seemed to be more mutual respect compared to his relationship with Patricia. Jones certainly never waved off McDaniels the same way he did two weeks ago to his current offensive coach.
People within the media seem to be split on their feelings about the situation, but it’s probably safe to say that it’s definitely better to have a guy like Jones who cares as opposed to one who doesn’t. A more frustrating situation would be seeing a lot of this play out and the second-year QB just going through the motions.
Truthfully, that would be a worse look. The fact he’s, at times, expressed what most people are also feeling at least tells us that he’s not happy with where the offense is. Even more importantly, it shows he also wants to get out of neutral and take some steps forward.
Jones has repeatedly said he’s a passionate player and he loves the game and this season has clearly been tough on him. People forget that prior to coming to the NFL, Jones wasn’t used to losing very often. He went unbeaten in his final season as Alabama won a National Championship, and was also coached by a guy in Nick Saban who was incredibly hard on him. His “I want to be coached harder” comment was telling, as he clearly wants to get better but potentially doesn’t feel like he’s got someone in his ear who can help him get there.
2) It’s sort of hard to believe we’re in Week 15 since, considering the lack of progress with the offense, it feels more like we’re in Week 5. We don’t really know any more now about this group than we did at that point of the season, which is definitely frustrating.
Aside from the emergence of Marcus Jones in the offense, it’s tough to think of too many positives other than the fact Rhamondre Stevenson at least gave us some confidence that the team will be able to potentially survive the loss of Damien Harris, who is a free agent after this season.
3) Josh Uche’s growth has come at a great time, with he and Matthew Judon each having terrific seasons. It’s just too bad their efforts and the rest of the defense are being wasted by what’s obviously going on over on the offensive side of the football.
4) Damien Harris’ issues feel like they stem from a player who is frustrated since he can clearly see the writing on the wall. The team wasn’t exactly subtle in the increased workload given to Stevenson, and it’s hard not to wonder if Harris has entered somewhat of a “self-preservation” mode and isn’t willing to push through injuries for a team that clearly showed they’re ready to potentially move on without him.
5) After struggling in his few snaps running the ball and his recent special teams’ gaffe, it was good to see Pierre Strong see some success and show off his explosiveness Monday night. Strong was the fastest running back in the 2022 NFL Draft and had a huge run that went for 44-yards in Arizona, giving the offense a much-needed boost and it led to a game-tying field goal. He’s the type of player who, like Marcus Jones, is so explosive in space, and it will be interesting to see how he’s ultimately used in the offense.
Harris stepped up Monday night. (PHOTO: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
6) Kevin Harris rebounded from his run-in with Bills’ defender Shaq Lawson, who dropped his shoulder and stopped Haris for no gain last week, which saw Harris immediately get yanked following what was his lone snap on offense.
But Monday night, the rookie carried eight times for 26 yards, which included a terrific 14-yard touchdown run where he powered past defenders on his way into the end zone. It came just at the right time, and here’s to hoping he can build on that moving forward.
7) Trent Brown finally shed some light on his problems on Wednesday during his media session. The veteran revealed he’s lost 12 pounds while dealing with a flu-like illness, which has hampered him in recent weeks.
His play overall has been disappointing this season, and Brown’s issues, along with the musical chairs they continue to play at right tackle, have been a big factor in their inability to get anything going consistently on offense.
Brown claims he’s feeling better, which is certainly good news. Seeing him start turning things around, especially given what’s at stake over these final few weeks, is going to be something that definitely needs to happen for them to have any hope of taking any steps forward offensively.
8) Jack Jones has had a solid rookie year, and seeing him get injured the other night is also going to be something to keep an eye on. The rookie has provided a much-needed injection of youth and speed for a secondary that absolutely needed it, and he’s turned out to be one of the more pleasant surprises this season.
However, it hasn’t all been perfect. The former Arizona State standout does occasionally give up a play here and there, which is why it would be nice if he’d reel in the celebrations a bit until that becomes a little less frequent.
Still, given the criticism he faced coming out of college, he deserves credit for being one of New England’s best selections from this past April and let’s hope he’ll make another big play or two here down the stretch.
9) Lastly, this meeting between Belichick and McDaniels is one that most Patriots fans should be dreading, at least given how things have gone recently. Both Patricia and McDaniels got the better of the Patriots in each of their previous meetings as head coaches, and the Raiders are a team that has finally started figuring things out and appear to be heading in a better direction.
Derek Carr is arguably one of the better quarterbacks in the Conference, and everyone is aware of how explosive Devante Adams is. Add back in – potentially – Hunter Refrow and Darren Waller – and it’s a pretty stacked group that McDaniels will likely know how to get the most out of.
At this point last year in New England, McDaniels had already run three plays with receivers throwing the football, and we can likely expect at least one of those moments by Las Vegas this Sunday, given what’s at stake.
It’s probably safe to say at 5-8, McDaniels will likely pull out all the stops to get the win since a loss slams the door on any shot of extending their season.
On the other side, at least so far, Patricia hasn’t pulled out anything that has surprised anyone. Whether or not that changes this weekend remains to be seen, but the Patriots need this game as well given who they still have to face over the final three weeks of the season, as the road certainly doesn’t get any easier as they also try and remain in the playoff picture.
The two clubs will face off on Sunday at 4:05 ET at Allegiant Stadium.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2022 Patriots Season Patriots vs Raiders