Two games into the 2022 NFL season the Patriots’ offense has three total touchdowns, with Mac Jones accounting for two of those.
Meanwhile, soaring atop the AFC East in Buffalo, the Bills’ offense has eight offensive touchdowns with Josh Allen accounting for all eight. The Ravens have seven offensive touchdowns, Lamar Jackson accounting for all seven. Kansas City has eight offensive touchdowns, Patrick Mahomes accounting for seven. The Chargers six offensive touchdowns, Justin Herbert accounting for all six. Even Tua Tagovailoa accounts for all seven of Miami’s offensive touchdowns through two games.
At this point you probably get the point.
We entered the season thinking that Jones and his offense didn’t measure up to the cream of the AFC crop and a couple weeks into the competition that’s exactly what is playing out before our prescient eyes.
As former Cardinals head coach Dennis Green might put it, Jones and the Patriots offense are who we thought they were! But we will not be crowning Jones and Co. any time soon, and opponents certainly aren’t going to let them off the hook for their predictable passing-game mediocrity.
The reasons for New England’s lackluster offensive start are obvious, because they were the reasons we all had to doubt this offense for months heading into the new season.
Jones is a young, developing quarterback with questionable physical tools at his disposal. He’s not exactly a playmaker with either his arm or his legs, leaving his brain and decision-making as the foundation of his upside. Just how good the former No. 15 overall pick can be remains very much to be seen.
But that scouting report means he has to lean on the talent around him at times and must work within the confines of a well-constructed offensive scheme to find success.
And that’s where the questionable New England rubber meets the difficult NFL road.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Patriots lack the kind of elite playmaking talents that just about all the elite, productive quarterbacks take to the field each and every game day. There’s no Stefon Diggs, Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill in his mix of targets.
With all due respect to the cast of complementary weapons in Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Jonnu Smith, they are who they are, who we thought they were, and that doesn’t really measure up to how business is being done across the rest of the NFL where elite pass catchers are the catch of the day.
But the lack of the kind of high-end, centerpiece talent that defenses need to game plan for and fear in key situations is just portion of the Patriots’ problems on offense.
Let’s not forget – oh, how could we since we’ve talked about it nonstop for about eight months now – that the New England attack is being schemed together by a collaborative of coaches who’ve never really done the job. Certainly former defensive mastermind Matt Patricia, special teams expert Joe Judge and to some degree Bill Belichick have never put together an offensive scheme without at least some support from actual experts in that area.
The reality is that the Patriots’ “streamlined” approach on offense, a new-look system that was supposedly going to get modernized with some aspects of the oh-so-popular philosophies of Shanahan and McVay, has done anything but challenge opposing defenses and their coaching staffs through two weeks.
It’s pretty simple, actually. Questionable QB talent plus dubious pass-catchers combined with a suspect scheme equals sputtering offense.
Is Mac Jones going to be an elite, franchise QB? That’s debatable, but he’s not going to be in that class this year, not ready to carry an offense right now.
At some point will New England return to the days when it fields elite offensive playmakers like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker or Randy Moss? Probably, but it’s too late for that to come this fall.
Might Belichick, Patricia and Judge actually build an offense that is challenging for opponents to defend and brings creative, opportunistic advantages to its players on a weekly basis? Over time, maybe.
But none of that is going to happen this year.
And we all knew it before the season started, whether you were in the group of fans, media and outside observers that admitted it or the one that did not.
Jones and the Patriots are predictably exactly who we thought they were. They don’t measure up to the contending attacks in the AFC, just as we expected or at least should have expected.
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