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Friday Patriots Notebook 6/23: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
5 months ago at 12:33 pm ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Friday Patriots Notebook 6/23: News and NotesEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Some news and notes for this morning:

Herbstreit 1000% Behind Jones

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones heads into 2023 looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 campaign, and it appears he’s got one analyst who believes he’ll have a productive season.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday and talked about a variety of topics, with Herbstreit having an extremely positive outlook on the upcoming New England Patriots season.

During the segment, Herbstreit told McAfee he believes that Bill Belichick’s football team will be among the most improved teams offensively, coming off of what was obviously a frustrating year.

“Let me just say this.  I’m not going to say they’re going to be the most improved offense, and he’ll be the most improved quarterback in the league, but he’s going to be in the top three,” said Herbstreit of Jones.  “Without a doubt, the Patriots are going to one of the top three improved offenses.”

Herbstreit then went on to praise Jones, who he believes absolutely has a promising future ahead of him.  He also expressed frustration in what he watched the young quarterback go through last year, and believes that any of his critics have no idea what they’re talking about given what Jones had to deal with in 2022.

“I’m 1000% behind Mac Jones,” said Herbstreit.  “Of all the younger quarterbacks that have not had an opportunity to kind of prove their consistency and what they can offer, I’m just telling you right now, I sit here in whatever month we’re in, June, I’m telling you right now that Mac Jones is going to be a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback in the very near future whether it’s this year or in the next couple years.  He’s that good.”

“I did a thing for the draft in 2021 when I sat down with Trevor [Lawrence], and Justin Fields and Mac and a few other guys that went out that year, there were like five of them in the first round, and he was by far the most impressive guy when it came to … he was coming out of [Steve Sarkisian]’s offense at Alabama at the time, that 2020 National Championship team where they blew Ohio State out.  I would say that everybody talks about [Joe] Burrow in ’19 at LSU, I would say ’20 with Mac, because when you talk to him about the offense, he was honestly the most impressive quarterback I’ve ever spoken to in college at what he sees and how his brain processes and how it fires.”

“So give me a break on what they were doing offensively last year.  I mean, he had no chance.  Not only did he not have weapons around him, but what they were doing schematically, he had no chance.  So to blame him, is a bunch of bulls**t.  So you get Billy O’Brien, who is as good an offensive mind as there is to come in there and work with Mac Jones, I’m telling you right now, you’re going to see a drastic change in what he’s doing as a quarterback and what the Patriots are going to be able to do on that side of the football.”

“That’s just my feelings.  We’ll see what is when the season starts.  But get ready for a much improved Patriots season this year.”

Belichick on How Modern Defenses Have Forced Teams to Adapt

More good stuff from Belichick’s recent interview with the 33rd Man, where he talked about how the game has evolved and how it’s forced teams to change their approach as club’s have gotten more athletic on offense.

Belichick points out that this process actually started years ago with the Houston Oilers, which is where teams began having to shift their schemes as more athletic players were seeing time on offense.

“I remember when we went down and played Houston in a preseason game with the Giants and we were going against the run and shoot,” said Belichick.  “We were out there running around with Johnny Cooks and guys like that and trying to match with guys and we didn’t have any sub defense.  It was obvious that we had much space to cover with guys that had the kind of speed and athleticism to match up with out there.  That was a tough one.  Bill [Parcells] and I really had some great conversations about that that we still laugh about.”

“But we finally put the nickel defense on the field against these four receivers.   And then of course, we saw a lot more of that when I was in Cleveland when we faced Houston twice a year.  But ultimately, at some point, you have to match your personnel with the offensive personnel, and I think that happened with coach [Bill] Cowher in Pittsburgh.  They eventually had to get out of their 3-4 blitz zone schemes and do more of it out of nickel as teams started putting more faster and skill-type players on the field.

“To a degree, I feel like you’ve got to match up with that.  Maybe not go all the way, maybe not put as many as they have out there, but it’s hard to stay in base defense against, let’s call it four good receivers including the tight end.”

Belichick also talked a little bit about how guys in the secondary have needed to become a little more interchangeable, which is something we’ve definitely seen in recent seasons.  That’s something that he believes is important, with their ability to help out against the run being sometimes a little more important than their ability to play man-defense.

“Again, depending on who the players are and who you’re defending, that’s always a key point,” said Belichick.  “And then when you get to dime defense, for us, it’s usually three safeties and three corners, so it’s some combination of three safeties but it’s also three corners depending on how you look at it and you have a little more flexibility there.”

“But a lot of our defensive backs really are interchangeable between the safety and corner position in terms of their responsibilities, especially the inside corner spot, that nickel spot.  But it usually gives you a little bigger more physical player that you can play in the box.  You might lose a little bit in man-to-man coverage but if you can play good zone defense with those safeties, it just gives you a little more physical presence on the field.

Hopkins Still Pondering Next Move

DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly taking his time in making a decision and it sounds like he did leave Foxboro with an offer from the Patriots.

According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, both the Titans and Patriots were teams that Hopkins is considering offers from.  Russini reports that Hopkins is ‘going to take some time’ before he makes a final decision on where he wants to play, which appears to be down to – for now – being between both Tennessee and New England.

So far, both clubs have been Hopkins’ only stops since he’s become a free agent.  Both the Bills and Chiefs are among teams who have been rumored to be in the mix, but so far, nothing has come to fruition there just yet.

As a result, it remains something to monitor and the fact the chance of landing in New England remains in play, Patriots fans still have reason to be hopeful that the veteran wideout could be lining up with Mac Jones and the offense in the coming months.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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