FOXBORO, Mass. – Yesterday afternoon’s practice at Gillette Stadium was… forgettable… to say the least. Their offense looked abysmal – and it’s starting to get concerning. As you probably know, they have a game in two days, so it’s time to buckle down.
As I noted in my observations from Monday, it seems to be coming down to the offensive line. When the team works 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills, Mac shows the chemistry he’s built with guys like Nelson Agholor and Hunter Henry, and guys like DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton pop.
However, when they try to put the pieces together in 11-on-11’s – it’s an abject disaster. They need to make a change, and they need to do it fast.
The Pats hit the field again on Tuesday, earlier than originally planned, for what seems to be final tune-up before playing the Giants in their first exhibition game of the preseason. Here’s what I saw:
First on the Field/Player Arrivals:
Mac Jones finally threw a wrench into Terrance Mitchell’s first-on-the field streak today. The quarterback arrived at practice before I did (which is saying something) and ran through a full warm up. Could be him trying to change up the mojo heading into Thursday.
Notes and Storylines:
The offense started practice on a different field than they normally do – I assume they did this to, again, try and change up the mojo. Anything different is good at this point.
The offensive line improved mightily today, and it changed the course of the entire offense. They were actually opening up holes for running backs to get through, which we saw from several break out runs from Rhamondre Stevenson, and they made progress pass-blocking as well. Mac Jones was actually protected enough today to get through his reads and get the ball off.
Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones got some run with the first-team defense as the slot corner, something he’s yet to do this preseason. The Patriots had Shaun Wade and Jonathan Jones there for the first ten days, but they’ve since moved Jon Jones to outside corner and put Marcus Jones in the slot.
One thing I noticed from this defense today is that they were absolutely swarming to the ball in the short passing game. Their second level defenders look far more athletic than they did a season ago, which should help them get more stops and protect the pass far better.
Player of the Day:
Today’s Player of the Day was David Andrews. The Patriots center rallied the troops after practice yesterday by holding a players-only team meeting on the field – and it seemed to fuel his entire units fire on Tuesday.
Sure – Andrews got booted from practice today after a scuffle with defensive lineman Christian Barmore, but maybe that’s what this team needs. It’s no secret that the o-line has been brutal, and Andrews is the anchor of it. It’s been good to see him show some heart over the last two days.
Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe, and Devin McCourty spoke with the media after practice.
McCourty was asked, among other things, about his relationship with linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and his knowledge of football. “When I got here, Matty P. told me you don’t make a check unless Jerod makes a check.” He said that Mayo would make a great head coach one day.
Mac Jones was peppered with questions about the Patriots offensive struggles. “I think we’re close on things. We’re going to figure it out.”
When asked about what he can do to help improve the offense, Jones said, “I’m gonna figure it out. I always have, I always will.”
I asked the first question of my NFL reporting career today. I asked backup quarterback Bailey Zappe about how learning two offenses in college at Houston Baptist and Western Kentucky prepared him for learning the NFL system. The rookie said that he’s learned to throw out the old stuff and learn the new stuff much easier.
Wrap-Up and Takeaways:
The offense did a great job at improving off of yesterday’s abomination. They were by no means perfect, but it was an overall much better day from the unit. Some takeaways:
- The O-line specifically was far better today than they were on Monday. As I figured, it really made a difference in their production. The success will run through them.
- Some positional changes: Rookie RB Pierre Strong repped over J.J. Taylor in red zone drills. Marcus Jones played slot corner, and Jon Jones played boundary corner. Now’s the time to try things out.
- I’d say today was a “plus” day for the team as a whole. A good jumping-off point ahead of Thursday.
The Patriots will tie up the loose ends on Wednesday before welcoming the Giants to Gillette Stadium for their first preseason game of 2022. There’s no media tomorrow, but I’ll be on site on Thursday to cover the game. Stay tuned on Twitter and on CLNSMedia.com for updates before, during, and after Thursday’s game!
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