New England Patriots

  • Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots senior football advisor Matt Patricia coaches quarterback Mac Jones (10) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots offense under Mac Jones, Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, Joe Judge – seemingly everyone at this point – appears to be coming together. Communication-wise, anyway.

    Wednesday’s joint practice with the Carolina Panthers was another pretty good one for Jones and the offense, with a few highlight plays standing out. Jones was charted as 11-of-15 in 11-on-11 drills, and threw a touchdown with a two-point conversion in a late two-minute simulation.

    Perhaps most importantly, the Pats seem to have corrected a lot of the communication issues that often led to unblocked pass-rushers and tacklers in earlier camp practices. Jones has had some cleaner pockets in 11-on-11, and he’s looked calm and sharp and accurate when he’s had those.

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  • Jones told reporters after practice that the Patriots are making progress in terms of their team-wide communication. He also admitted that it’s extended to the coaches, who have gotten some input from players on what’s working and what isn’t. It’s been as collaborative an approach as we’ve ever seen in New England.

    “We’re getting there,” Jones said. “I think the coaches have done a good job just kind of listening to us, and if we don’t like something, it’s something that they’re going to listen to and tell us why we should do one thing or another. At the end of the day, they have a lot of experience, and they know exactly how to attack a defense. That’s something that we’ve kind of bought into.

    “There’s a lot of knowledge, and a lot of it is just making sure we’re all on the same page, like you said. “We’ve grown in that area, and we just have to continue to do that.”

  • If I may read between the lines for a moment … it sounds as if working with primary play-caller Matt Patricia, who has spent most of his career on the defensive side of the ball, has been something of an adjustment for Jones and the offense, after spending a year with offensive guru Josh McDaniels.

    Based on the results in the joint practices, it looks like, for the most part, the “same page” thing has been achieved. It’s still not consistent, certainly not perfect, but Jones sounds like he’s gotten over the initial shock of the coaching changes and everyone’s working better together.

    Team Drills

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jones started 3-of-3 in the first 11-on-11 period, which was all red zone. This came immediately after the Pats and Panthers settled things after the latest mid-practice brawl. Jones led off with consecutive “touchdowns” in the back-left corner of the end zone, to Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor. His third completion went to running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who has been getting most of the pass-catching reps with the starters out of the backfield.

    In the next red zone 11’s, Jones was 2-of-3 with a “touchdown” to Nelson Agholor. We credited Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos with a “sack” on a fourth passing play in this period. He looked to beat Patriots right tackle Yodny Cajuste off the edge.

    However, it was in this session that Jones connected with Agholor for the Play of the Day™. Agholor leaped and tracked the ball through three defensive backs to reel in a corner “touchdown,” which drew big cheers from his teammates on the sidelines. These were good DBs, too – 2021 first-round pick Jaycee Horn and dynamic third-year safety Jeremy Chinn were two of them.

    The only notable blemishes for Jones and the offense came in the final 11-on-11 reps, which were a simulated two-minute offense. Jones completed his first three passes in a row, including the first two to Agholor and a short hitch to Jakobi Meyers. But on the fourth snap, Jones had to throw the ball away as it looked like nobody could get open and he couldn’t buy enough time to throw.

  • Finishing Strong

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    The only glaring communication mishap came later in the final red zone period. Rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton appeared to run the wrong route, cutting upfield when Jones threw it toward the sideline, closer to the line of scrimmage. That specific play has appeared to be a sticking point in Jones and the receivers’ issues getting on the same page.

    Thornton is clearly physically gifted and the most promising Patriots receiver in years, but communication and trust could be what holds him back from making an immediate impact.

    Despite the up-and-down nature of the Patriots’ two-minute reps, they closed with a couple of ups. Jones found a just-got-open DeVante Parker at the goal line for a “touchdown,” then completed a two-point conversion to Ty Montgomery.

    Overall, a solid day with some legit playmaking between Jones and his receivers. They may be a long way away from producing against high-end competition, but they’re clearly better-coached than the Panthers and look like they’ll be able to take care of business against bad teams.

    That’s better than flat-out sucking, right? They don’t suck. We can at least say that now.

  • Mac Jones during Patriots training camp on July 28, 2022. (Syndication: The Providence Journal)

    Mac Jones during Patriots training camp on July 28, 2022. (Syndication: The Providence Journal)

    The Patriots will now have a day off on Thursday, before taking the field Friday night at Gillette Stadium for the second preseason game of the year against the Panthers. If I were to guess, I’d predict that Jones and the starters wouldn’t play, but maybe they’ll get a series. I’m expecting a lot of Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe.

    We’ll continue to have you covered throughout the preseason, as the Patriots get ready for the 2022 campaign. Click here for complete training camp coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.