What did Sunday's loss tell us about Mac Jones?
Let’s be honest: the Patriots need help, and need it badly. Everywhere and all over. On offense. On defense. Heck, after getting pantsed on a trick-kick two-point pass play against the Dallas Cowboys, on special teams too. And perhaps reinforcements could be on the way from within at just the right time.
After starting their season on the Injured Reserve: Designated to Return list, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, cornerback Jack Jones, wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, defensive end Trey Flowers and special teamer Cody Davis are all eligible to return this week. None are definite at the moment, though all could be useful given the Pats’ roster depth, record and recent performance.
Reiff, signed to a one-year deal this offseason, could return after injuring his ankle in the preseason finale against the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots have struggled mightily on the offensive line through their first four games, fielding four different lineups. Reiff played right tackle most of his career but also played some right guard this preseason for New England. A return to right tackle might be best as both Calvin Anderson and Vederian Lowe have struggled in that spot.
The Pats’ depth at cornerback is truly of concern, thus a return of Jack Jones would be massive. Veteran Jonathan Jones has missed the last three games with an ankle issue. Marcus Jones hit injured reserve last week with a torn labrum. And now celebrated rookie Christian Gonzalez left Sunday’s game vs. Dallas with a shoulder injury and was seen in a sling postgame, with WEEI’s own Mike Kadlick reporting it’s a shoulder dislocation. Jack Jones hinted he’d be coming back as soon as possible…hopefully as soon as this Sunday against New Orleans. Otherwise Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade are the starting corners. Yikes!
Coming off of a game where no wide receiver caught more than two passes and only Hunter Henry had more catches from Mac Jones than Dallas cornerback DaRon Bland, a return of a healthy Tyquan Thornton, who could add vertical speed to the Pats’ torpid passing attack, would be a boost for Mac Jones and company.
Thornton has yet to live up to the hype that came with his elite speed when drafted in 2022, but any chance to add some burst to a corps struggling to score would be welcome.
Veteran Trey Flowers, no stranger to rushing the passer in a Pats uniform, might come back at just the right time with sacks and overall team leader Matthew Judon injuring his biceps tendon Sunday, likely leading to an IR stint in his near future. While Flowers isn’t the D-line stalwart he was in his Pats prime (he hasn’t played a full healthy season since 2019 in Detroit), any experienced edge player who can potentially chase the QB and set the edge, spelling the likes of Deatrich Wise, Josh Uche and rookie Keion White, will be seen as a plus right now.
And as for Cody Davis? His steady special teams play has been missing since an injury derailed his 2022 campaign after six games. While special teams play has improved this season, Dallas’ two-point trick and all, there’s always room in kick coverage and protection for a dependable veteran like Davis.
The only question now is when we will see any of these players. Could it be as soon as this Sunday in Foxboro vs. the New Orleans Saints? When asked Monday morning on WEEI about the possibility of each coming back to the active roster this week, coach Bill Belichick said, "We'll see how that goes. It's a possibility. Maybe."
Enlightening as always.
All kidding aside…desperate times call for desperate measures, and while the season is far from over the Pats’ ranks are pretty thin all over. So the sooner the better for all.