Some news and notes for this morning:
As the Patriots continue getting ready for Sunday’s match-up in Dallas, it was interesting to go back and look at Sunday’s game against the Jets, most notably some of Mac Jones’ moments.
Despite what was a rainy afternoon, Jones really made some terrific throws in pretty adverse conditions, which they’ve faced for the second time this season after another rainy game in the opener against the Eagles.
One of his best throws of the day came on a 3rd-and-5 from their own 27, which saw the Jets bring a tremendous amount of pressure. On the play, Kendrick Bourne ran a shallow in route, with Demario Douglas streaking past him as he broke in, which confused Jets defensive back Michael Carter II.
Douglas accelerated downfield and broke outside, with Jones standing in until the last minute and lofting the football over Carter, who leaped up to try and make a play on it, but it ended up hitting Douglas for a 15 yard gain and a first down.
That play was key, because Jones then followed that up with a perfectly thrown pass to Pharoah Brown for the 58 yard touchdown.
He hit several throws under pressure Sunday in tight windows, with Bourne and Devante Parker each ending up on the receiving end of a couple of them. At this point, it’s all about progress and we saw some of that at various points against the Jets.
Jones has quietly shown a lot of the same promise in that area this year that he did during his rookie year in 2021. Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston said Tuesday night he believes things will only get better for Jones in that area if their offensive line continues to improve.
“Look, if you don’t have guys who are extremely fast and elusive, the best way to get them open is to have a lot of time,” said Curran. “Now Ben Roethlisberger profited from that, even though he had a very good Steelers offensive line because he was built like a sequoia and he could stand there and have people bounce off him. Mac isn’t that, so he’ll need that protection.”
“But I could see, if the development of the offensive line continues and they get more time for him where he can survey and make some throws. Because one thing about him is, he is so friggin accurate. His anticipation is so absurd, that you do have something there.”
Many have criticized Jones due to New England’s second half, but there was a pretty dramatic shift in their approach. Jones threw the football just 11 times over that span (4/7 39yds in the 3rd quarter, 2/4 in the 4th quarter), while they instead ran the football 24 times.
Ezekiel Elliott (10 carries, 48 yards in the second half) and Rhamondre Stevenson (11 carries 28 yards in the second half) split the majority of that load, with Elliott having the most success after averaging 4.8 yards over that span.
The frustrating part of that stretch was the fact they moved the chains just 4 times running the football, along with just 3 passing first downs over that same span. That led to six second half punts after they failed to sustain most of their drives.
Their longest drive of the second half was at the start of the third quarter, where Jones and the offense went 42 yards on 10 plays, with Chad Ryland hitting a 51 yard field goal. That gave them a 13-3 lead and it ended up being their final offensive points of the afternoon.
Clearly, they felt like they had control of this game and, given the weather and the way their defense was playing, that explains the conservative approach. It also tells you how little they thought of Zach Wilson where they were comfortable enough to keep kicking the ball back to him.
They’ll need to be better this week against Dallas, as Dak Prescott should certainly be significantly more difficult to deal with.
The Patriots placed Daniel Ekuale on injured reserve, which comes after he reportedly suffered a torn biceps against the Jets on Sunday.
His loss certainly hurts them up front, as the Patriots will now have to shift things around against a Dallas Cowboys team that is currently 8th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. That will likely see an increase in playing time for Sam Roberts, who ended up coming in and playing 18 snaps on Sunday after being inactive during the first two weeks of the season.
According to the league’s transaction wire, the Patriots also released defensive back William Hooper from the practice squad.
Out in Denver, Sean Payton is quietly still seething following that embarassing 70-20 beatdown against Miami last weekend and it sounds like Russell Wilson’s time there is running out.
Following an offseason where he stood up for Wilson and threw out some ridiculous criticism of the former coaching staff, Payton certainly is eating a bit of crow these days. He just endured the one of the worst losses in NFL history and was just 3 points shy of giving up the record number of points in league history, which was only because Dolphins’ coach Mike McDaniel decided to be merciful.
Still, someone is going to have to take the fall for Denver’s 0-3 start and it looks like Wilson is potentially going to be that person.
After all, Denver gave up plenty of currency, including two first round picks along with three players (TE Noah Fant, QB Drew Lock, and DE Shelby Harris) to consummate that deal.
So far, they have little to nothing to show for it.
Meanwhile, to lose that badly also shows a lack of preparation and a poor game plan by the coaching staff. Prior to joining the Broncos, Payton was largely regarded as one of the more coveted coaches around the league, including a rumored report where he and Tom Brady may have ended up together in Miami.
Instead, he’s left reeling trying to figure out how he’s going to stop the bleeding and start stacking up some wins in the coming weeks.
“Look, this is one of those weeks where you take a butt-whooping like that, you find out a lot about everyone,” Payton said earlier this week. “It’s a tough film to watch. I debated whether we were gonna show it or not, but I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t.”
“We’ve got to sit in here, and today, as it’s unpleasant as it’s going to be, we’ve got to get these things cleaned up. Look, we played a good offense, but we certainly didn’t help ourselves in any way, shape or form in playing them.”
If they don’t, Wilson’s days could be numbered if he doesn’t start to look more like the player the Broncos hoped he would be. In fact, some reports are starting to hint that he could potentially be shipped out of town by midseason if the slide continues for Denver.
It’s hard to imagine how that might play out, especially considering he just signed a 5-year, $242.5 million extension with the club last September.
Needless to say, this should be an interesting two weeks for Denver. They head to Chicago this weekend to face the Bears, followed by a home game against the Jets.
That’s two games where they’ll need to hope they can pull it together. Otherwise, an appearance four days later on Thursday night football on national television against Kansas City could be pretty interesting to watch.
Unfortunately for Payton, after seeing what McDaniel did, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid may end up making that one just as ugly if his team is still a mess by then.
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