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Wednesday Patriots Notebook 9/20: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
2 months ago at 11:07 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 9/20: News and NotesDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Some news and notes for this morning:

Jones Off to His Best Season Statistically

While New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is continuing to receive a fair amount of criticism locally, the numbers so far through two games, tell a different story.

Looking at his totals through two games in each of the last three seasons, Jones is actually ahead of all of them, including his 2021 rookie year when he got off to a relatively fast start with former offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.

Here’s a quick look at the totals, broken down by quarter along with his overall red zone totals over that same span:

2021: Total: 51/69 (73.9%) 467yds 1 TD
Q1: 14/15 (93.3%) 106yds
Q2: 17/25 (68%) 169yds 1TD
Q3: 10/14 (71.4%) 138yds
Q4: 10/15 (66.7%) 54yds
Redzone 3/6 (50%) 13yds 1TD

2022: Total: 42/65 (64.6%) 465yds 2TDs 2INTs
Q1: 11/16 (68.8%) 102yds 2 INTs
Q2: 8/13 (61.5%) 128yds 1 TD
Q3: 14/19 (73.7%) 123yds 1TD
Q4: 9/17 (52.9%) 112yds
Redzone 3/5 (60%) 13yds 1TD

2023: Total: 66/96 (68.8%) 547yds 4TDs 2INTs
Q1: 11/16 (68.8%) 67yds 1 INT
Q2: 20/26 (76.9%) 170yds 2 TDs
Q3: 10/16 (62.5%) 68yds 1 INT
Q4: 25/38 (65.8%) 242yds 2 TDs
Redzone: 5/7 (71.4%) 56yds 4TDs

What’s probably the most interesting is the fact that the second and fourth quarter totals are significantly better than last season, which was where the offensive plays were being called by Matt Patricia.  Patricia’s biggest knock for most of last year was the fact he had a tough time adjusting to what opposing defenses were doing, which hampered the club a fair amount last year and it seemingly never really got better.

That’s a skill experienced coordinators tend to get better off over the course of their careers, but Patricia didn’t have that luxury.  For a team that wants to get back into contention, allowing him that time wasn’t an option and the Patriots instead with a more experienced playcaller in Bill O’Brien.

So far, the results have shown it was the right move.  Jones has actually improved in those quarters and has actually been better there than he has been so far coming out at the start of the game or out of the locker room at the half.

Those plays are generally scripted, and that success will likely improve.  Although, there’s a caveat to the first quarter in that the offense has turned it over twice in two games.  The first came in Week 1 on the ball Jones threw in the rain wide to Kendrick Bourne, which went off his hands for a pick-six against the Eagles, along with Demario Douglas’ fumble on Sunday night against Miami.

So that’s unfortunately played a role in both contests.  One would have to believe that will also improve because if it doesn’t, it’s going to be a long season.

So Far, Patriots Miss Meyers

Digging further into Jones’ totals, it’s clear that the lack of a viable third-down target has also been an issue this season.

Here’s a look at the totals from Jones by down in each of the last few seasons over this span:

23/28 (82.1%) 249yds
2nd: 16/21 (76.2%) 115yds 1 TD
3rd: 12/20 (60%) 103yds (9 Passing First Downs)
4th: 0/0

1st: 13/24 (54.2%) 142yds 1 INT
2nd: 18/23 (78.3%) 134yds
3rd: 11/17 (64.7%) 189yds 2 TDs 1 INT (8 Passing First Downs)
4th: 0/1

1st: 28/36 (77.8%) 223yds 1 TD 1 INT
2nd: 23/33 (69.7%) 205yds 3 TDs
3rd: 13/22 (59.1%) 104yds 1 INT (6 Passing First Downs)
4th: 2/5 (40%) 15yds

One glaring thing that stands out is the fact Jakobi Meyers is the common thread when looking at 2021 and 2022.  Meyers led the team to this point in third-down conversion receptions in both 2021 (4 receiving first downs) and 2022 (5 receiving first downs).  James White joined him in 2021 with 3 receiving first downs, but after he got hurt, Meyers went on to lead everyone in that category both for that entire season, along with leading the team by what turned out to be a massive margin in 2022.

He finished 2022 with 18 receiving first downs on third down for New England, far ahead of the next closest player, Kendrick Bourne, who had seven and was barely part of the offense.

Meyers may not have been their most explosive receiver, but he had a knack for getting open in that “gotta have it” moment.  So far, anyone who has seen the product on the field knows that hasn’t been the case to this point in 2023 for Jones, and the numbers certainly reflect it.

There isn’t someone he can rely on yet, at least not consistently.  DeVante Parker is currently the leader in this category as the only player with more than one, and he’s made two so far.  Rhamondre Stevenson (1), Mike Gesicki (1), Bourne (1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (1) round out the rest of the list of players who have caught a pass and converted for him on third down.

The other players targeted either had a catch but didn’t move the chains (Demario Douglas [he lost 4 yards in Week 1 and fumbled on what would have been a 10yd gain and a first down Sunday], and Ezekiel Elliott) or came up incomplete (Kayshon Boutte, and Ty Montgomery).

As for Myers, he suffered a pretty significant setback after leading Las Vegas with 9 receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns, which led the team during the Raiders’ Week 1 win over the Broncos.  He missed this past Sunday’s game with a concussion, yet still sits at second on the team behind Devante Adams in receptions and receiving yards.

For now, the Patriots still need someone to emerge in key situations because no one has seized that role to this point.  That needs to change, because it’s clearly an area of need.

Corral Situation Remains Bizarre

For anyone following the situation with Matt Corral, things just went from strange to completely bizarre.

According to MassLive’s Mark Daniels, the Patriots seemingly ironed things out with the quarterback after removing him from the exempt/left squad list, which happened after Corral left the team and was out of contact for multiple days ahead of the team’s opener against the Eagles.

While the team added Ian Book to their practice squad one week ago, the team has since parted ways with Book and had seemingly appeared set to put Corral back on their practice squad after Daniels reported the quarterback had cleared waivers and agreed to return.

Instead, that didn’t happen.  And now Corral has seemingly changed his mind.

As a result, Daniels reports that the Patriots will move forward with just Bailey Zappe behind Jones as they ponder their next move.

Needless to say, it’s been a strange road for the former Panthers quarterback.  What the issue may be has yet to come to light, but his story will certainly go down as one of the stranger ones in recent memory.

In the meantime, the club still has former Louisville standout Malik Cunningham on their practice squad.  Cunningham took the majority of snaps at receiver but did see some brief time at quarterback during the preseason.  What role he will ultimately have is obviously the next question, but he at least provides some depth should either Jones or Zappe end up out of action.

Brown Gets a Bump in Pay

One thing that stood out from 2022 was the fact that after signing a two-year deal in 2022, Trent Brown didn’t appear overly thrilled with how last season played out.

At the time, it had seemed like the club would use Isaiah Wynn at left tackle and use Brown at right tackle, which was where both players spent 2021 and it led to a playoff appearance after the Patriots finished 10-7.

However, Brown was elevated to left tackle ahead of last season, while Wynn was moved to right tackle.  That left Brown seemingly intimating at times last year he wasn’t thrilled with playing left tackle at a lower number, and Wynn certainly didn’t seem thrilled during camp about his change, either.

Wynn ultimately departed via free agency this past offseason, while Brown came into this year and was apparently not happy with his contract.

It appears the Patriots took a step this week to make him a little happier, with Adam Schefter reporting that the club added $2 million worth of incentives, which now bumps the final remaining year up to potentially $13 million if he reaches them.

What New England does beyond this season is then the next question.  Brown is set to become a free agent after this year, and they have no young player currently in the pipeline to replace him.  The club acquired Vedarian Lowe at the end of training camp, and he stepped in for Brown this past weekend while Brown was out with a concussion.

Calvin Anderson, who missed camp with an illness, stepped in at right tackle and has been adequate to this point.  Tyrone Wheatley was also added at the end of camp in a trade, while rookie Sidy Sow has gotten some work at right tackle but has played guard since the season started.

As a result, the position remains somewhat thin.  Hopefully, Brown can come back and go the distance for at least this year.  But from there, while tackle didn’t appear to be a big priority this past offseason, it should definitely be at the top for the Patriots next spring, especially given how things have started so far up front.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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