Some news and notes on this Friday:
Barring a Change, Are Jones & Belichick’s Days Numbered?
NBC Sports Boston ran a recent poll on who they believe will be the coach and quarterback in two years.
Many within the poll believed neither of the two will be here by then, and Tom Curran appeared on Jones & Mego with Arcand on Thursday believes it’s possible they may both be gone by then.
“Yes, I do, and the reason why is contractual to an extent with Mac Jones,” said Curran. “The options were, ‘Mac and Bill are together’,’Bill No Mac’, ‘Mac, no Bill’, ‘Neither one’s here.’ So, to me, the likelihood is, that Mac Jones gets to his, this coming May in six months, and the Patriots decide … I think it’s a coin-flip right now whether or not you pick up his fifth-year option.”
“I’m sure that there’s people out there who are going to say, ‘What else do you need to see?’ But I still don’t think that you know what he is because of what’s around him and the situation that he’s been in. So, I think there’s a 50/50 chance they pick up that fifth-year option. So if they do do that, he is here in 2025. I think Bill Belichick really has until next year, the end of next year, best-case scenario … not best-case scenario, most likely scenario. That seems to be what I would presume to be the timeline. If he’s two wins away from [Don] Shula, well, then maybe both of them are here. But I can definitely see the third option where the Patriots say, ‘No, not going to do that.'”
“What I found most interesting, when you add them up, the responses, people are completely split, divided on, whether or not Bill will be here in 2025. It was right at 50% each when you look at the answers.”
Curran was then asked about what he believes the path for the rest of the season would need to be in order for the Patriots to pick up Jones’ option.
“He plays like he did for the lion’s share of the games against the Eagles and the Dolphins,” said Curran. “You don’t see any games at all that look like anything like what happened Sunday against Dallas. And I do think that was an outlier game. I’ve never seen a meltdown like that by him before, so I think chances are, you’re never going to see a meltdown like that again.”
“So, in order for them to pick up the fifth-year option, he has to play the way the guy did against the Dolphins and the Eagles. That, to me, is why it’s not some pie in the sky, ‘Hey, maybe if everything happens … play like you did against the Dolphins and the Eagles for the lion’s share of those games.’ That means, erase the red zone pick on a throw towards DeVante Parker. That means, erase the high throw at the beginning of the game that got picked and returned for a touchdown. So, if he plays like that, then the Patriots are in a position where they’re like, ‘O.K., what are we going to do with the improvement? Do we just give ourselves one more year with him and see how he’s playing in 2025?'”
Meghan Ottolini then asked Curran if he sees Mac potentially having an outing where he saves both the team and the game at some point this season. Curran doesn’t expect it to happen, given his history.
“I don’t, because we haven’t seen it yet, and he is such a product of what’s around him,” said Curran. “Everything he does is based on what’s around him. That’s why it’s such a … as RGIII said this week and we’ve all said it at previous times as well, it’s coaching malpractice to put a stationary quarterback behind an offensive line that you didn’t invest in with wide receivers and tight ends who, when you did go in and spend on them, you bought the wrong ones in Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith … maybe Jonnu wasn’t the wrong one to buy, you just didn’t use him correctly … whatever. It is malpractice to put a stationary quarterback who is very much a system, you know, point guard and ask him to be Russell Westbrook. You can’t do it.”
It’s obviously a big week for both Jones and Belichick as they both will be trying to put last week behind them against the Saints on Sunday.
Jones Focused on Bouncing Back After Frustrating Outing
Mac Jones told reporters this week that a lot of what he’s been doing coming off Sunday’s embarrassing loss in Dallas is focusing on the little things as he tries to reset himself ahead of the Saints.
Jones said this week that he needs to just focus on playing within himself and what his job is on a given play, which he added when he doesn’t, has led to undesired results.
“Biggest thing, like I said, is identify what play we’re running. It could be a run, it could be a handoff, what’s my job on that play?” explained Jones. “I can’t focus on really anything else. I’ve always been good when I do that and when I don’t, I’m not as good. So, just have to focus on that.”
One thing offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien also talked about earlier this week was the fact Jones needed to get back to focusing on his fundamentals, including things like footwork, and just getting back to the basics, which Jones acknowledged has been an area of focus this week.
“For me, it’s always trying to add it in, whether it’s after my workouts or whatever on the field, to definitely hit it every day, but really just try to do more and be consistent,” said Jones. “Like, one day, you can’t miss footwork drills or whatnot. So, we’ve talked about it, and things that we can do better. Just, getting the reps of the footwork and the timing, and applying it to the game is the important part.”
Hopefully, it will see him end up with better results this weekend.
Stevenson On the Injury Report
Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson appeared on the injury report late Wednesday and yesterday with a reported “thigh” injury ahead of Sunday’s Saints game.
He’s obviously been off to a slow start. Through four games in 2023, Stevenson has 164 yards on 60 carries, along with a touchdown, while averaging 2.7 yards per rush. Last season, through four games, he had 211 yards on 43 carries and one touchdown while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
This season that hasn’t been the case, and part of that has to do with New England’s issues up front along their offensive line. Both Trent Brown and Cole Strange have each missed time, with Strange’s presence seemingly having a fairly big impact on how well they’ve run the football. When he’s been out, Stevenson’s struggles have been significant compared to when he’s been active.
With Strange Active (Weeks 2 & 3):
Stevenson: 34 carries, 109 yards (3.2 avg) 1 TD
With Strange Inactive (Weeks 1 & 4):
Stevenson: 26 carries, 55 yards (2.1 avg)
That situation will likely linger throughout the year. According to Curran, Strange’s injury requires surgery, and he’s just trying to play through it, at least for as long as he can. Atonio Mafi has filled in when Strange has been sidelined and has been serviceable, but his strength has seemingly been in the passing game more so than the ground game to this point.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott has done a good job splitting the workload and has gotten off to a good start, carrying 34 times for 138 yards (4.1 avg), albeit they’ve used him differently than Stevenson in terms of the types of runs compared to his teammate.
Looking back to last year, the absence of Damien Harris does sting a bit. Harris had 53 carries for 246 yards (4.6 avg) and three rushing touchdowns to this point in 2022. So far in Buffalo, Harris has 19 carries for 80 yards (4.2 avg) along with one touchdown.
Last year to this point, Mac Jones also had a TD run, which saw them carry the football into the end zone five times by Week 5 last season. So far, they’ve only come up with one heading into this weekend in 2023.
As a result, Stevenson’s situation remains one to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Posted Under: Patriots News