Which Patriots Are Being Underused So Far In 2022?

September 23, 2022
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The Patriots look like they’re heading in the right direction, but one confusing aspect of the first two games is the way they’ve distributed playing time/usage. We look at a couple victims of that distribution.

On both sides of the ball, with a roster that has this much turnover, it is difficult sometimes to figure out who to put on the field in what situation. There’s certainly been some experimentation that the Patriots have done in that regard, but it has led to some players not being used properly. Here, I look into a couple players that need to be used more for the team to reach its potential.

When Will The Patriots Let Kendrick Bourne Go Wild?

One of the stories of preseason that has carried over to the regular season was the underutilization of Kendrick Bourne after his fights in the joint practices with the Panthers. His incident has clearly carried over into the regular season, where he has gotten a total of only four targets in two games. Especially frustrating for fans is that fact that in his four targets, he has had three catches, including a 41-yard screamer on his only target against the Dolphins.

With the offense still finding its bearings, Bourne needs to get more involved in the offense. He’s a reliable receiver who has extremely sure hands, as evidenced by his true catch rate of almost 97% last year. He is also a speedy, athletic player with excellent route-running skills, who can get it done both near the line of scrimmage and downfield.

With 55 receptions for 800 yards last season, Bourne had a huge role in the offense, and this season, he needs to as well for the Patriots offense to take off, as they haven’t been getting production from a lot of their other weapons, and Mac needs to have receivers he is familiar with and can trust to truly get going. Game two was a step in the right direction, but it’s time to put personal matters aside and treat Bourne like the starting receiver he is.

Why Is Jonnu And The TE Group As A Whole So Quiet?

One of the acquisitions from last year that didn’t quite reach his potential was Jonnu Smith, with 28 receptions for 294 yards and just one touchdown last year, well short of the numbers he was achieving in Tennessee. When Smith and Henry joined the team, flashes of the Gronk-Hernandez duo in 2012 were inevitably coming in the minds of fans.

With Henry’s conventional, bruising, but reliable style that was very successful in 2021, and Smith’s shiftiness and versatility, there’s a lot that can be done with the two that can make life difficult for defenses. However, not much is being done. Smith has had three catches this season, and Henry has had two in what has been a slow start for the duo not just in terms of production, but also utilization. A lot of this is on the playcalling.

Matt Patricia, who has been doing a majority of the playcalling so far for the Patriots, hasn’t been drawing up anything unique for Smith, which is a big mistake. Rather than using him as a conventional tight end, the Patriots would gain a lot by taking a page out of Tennessee’s book. The Titans had Smith running all kinds of routes, running plays out of a wildcat formation, running the ball on end-arounds and gadget plays. The full exploitation of his versatility is what made him so dangerous at Tennessee, and what the Patriots need to do to make the most out of Smith now.

Perhaps a bit part of this could be engaging Patriots’ tight end coach Nick Caley in playcalling, as he’s worked with Henry and Smith, but also Gronkowski a few years back. He may be the answer in terms of getting the group heavily involved in the offense, which they can and should be.

What Are The Patriots Planning To Do With Marcus Jones?

When the Patriots drafted Marcus Jones, surely this isn’t what they had in mind. Marcus is yielding his time to the rest of the secondary, and while there’s a fair bit of depth in the secondary, his skills are a necessity for the team. However, he has played sparingly in both of his games, and hasn’t really gotten a chance to test out his skills at cornerback.

Marcus is a player with great speed and athleticism, as well as an ability to read opposing offenses and often adapt in time. He isn’t the tallest, at 5’8″ so that is a drawback, but his agility and sensibility still make him a major threat. So far during training camp and preseason, he has looked great, which makes his relative absence all that more confusing. With Jack Jones getting some reps, it’s important that Marcus get a chance on the field as well, as real game experience is what helps a player truly acclimate to the position.

Myles Bryant strikes me as the player who Jones can replace in the secondary. He was underwhelming during the offseason and has continued to get beat frequently in the regular season. Jones could be a welcome change there with his speed and skillset. Jones could also take Bryant’s role as the primary punt/kickoff return specialist. While Bryant has been solid, Jones had an electrifying college career as punt returner with nine return touchdowns, and should be tried out in that role.


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