FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts and notes on the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. Mac support system: The Patriots players have the back of quarterback Mac Jones.
It was one of the resounding themes of the past week as the Patriots (1-1) prepared to host the Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
Jones and the Patriots are coming off their first win of the season, though parts of the sophomore quarterback’s performance — including an early interception and a potential pick that was dropped in the second half — drew media criticism . .
Some players didn’t seem to like it.
A telling moment unfolded Wednesday as longtime captain Devin McCourty answered questions from reporters in the media workroom, and Jones waited his turn in the corner.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity to spur Jones on as he listened, McCourty fired back at a respected and longtime Patriots reporter. The reporter asked about the scrutiny of young quarterbacks and Jones’ progress in 2022, drawing a parallel to how McCourty had a productive rookie season before diving into Year Two.
“I would say, first and foremost, there aren’t many people who watch football who understand how to play quarterback. It doesn’t matter what. Including you,” McCourty replied.
“He would be crazy if he built his career on what people write and say about him, because on the one hand there are not many who have played in this position at a high level and can do it. do it consistently. You go out, you play as a rookie, you’re successful, it sucks but everyone’s waiting to write bad things about you. That’s how it all works.
“I think he knows, in this building, that all the guys in this locker room believe in him. Everyone in this locker room sees him not just as our quarterback, but as a captain of this team, a leader of this team.
It was McCourty’s last response, and as he walked away from the mic and towards the exit, Jones clapped his hands softly and the two exchanged a handshake and a smile.
More privately, other veteran players noted that Jones was leading a new offense in his second season in the NFL, adjusting to a new coaching setup without former Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels. Of course, they say, there will be an adjustment period.
In the team’s 1-1 start last season, Jones was 51 of 69 for 467 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions.
In this season’s 1-1 start, he’s 42 of 65 for 465 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Asked what he observed of Jones in terms of handling criticism, second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson said, “He’s a very mature quarterback. He knows what we have to do to get through this long season, the steps we have to take. I have full confidence in this man.
Stevenson is far from alone. That was clear throughout the locker room over the past week.
2. Meyers’ Hope: By the time the Patriots wrapped up their last practice of the week on Friday, first receiver Jakobi Meyers (left knee) hadn’t given up hope of playing Sunday against the Ravens despite having hardly practiced all week long. The 48 hours before kick-off are key as it tends towards a game time decision – with the only caveat that coach Bill Belichick could play it safe regardless, taking the decision out of Meyers’ hands . The injury originally occurred in the pre-season finale against the Raiders and Meyers has struggled with varying levels of discomfort ever since.
3. Bourne’s message: Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was having lunch in his locker on Friday when a reporter approached. The gist of his message was simple: WWhatever we talk about, don’t make it about me. “I’m happy here,” Bourne said. “Of course I want to play. But I want to help in any way I can. Bourne’s playing time had been a hot topic after Week 1 when he only played two snaps. He played 23 in Week 2, when the Patriots are five deep at receiver with Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Bourne and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.If Meyers can’t get there on Sunday, Bourne’s playing time could climb even further.
4. Adjustment of invoices: How decisive were the Bills in their victories? Their last 20 regular season wins have all been by at least 10 points, which is tied with the Bears of 1941-42 for the longest such streak in NFL history, according to Elias. The last time they won by less than 10 points was in a 24-21 triumph over the Patriots on Nov. 1, 2020. That was the game Cam Newton had the Patriots close to tying or win a game. , before fumbling with 31 seconds remaining.
5. Judon’s journey: Patriots outside linebacker Matthew Judon will face his former team, the Ravens, on Sunday. He said it’s “just another gameto him. Judon also credits the Ravens for helping him acclimate to the Patriots. “The locker room and the guys that were in that locker room, that sort of translates to here. Judon said, adding that both teams are built on a winning culture. “We’ve seen places where good players go in certain teams and it doesn’t seem to fit. I think I fit in well because everyone in the dressing room has accepted me.”
6. Praise of Humphrey: Big-bodied receiver Humphrey earned a quick promotion from the practice squad to the Patriots’ 53-man roster after the first week of the season, with Belichick saying, “He’s an interesting guy. It doesn’t really fit a mold for a certain position, but he’s a good football player. Glad we have it. Humphrey’s block and clutch grab in final practice last week contributed to the team’s first victory. Plus, the Patriots only carry two tight ends (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound pass-catching Humphrey is sort of a No. 3 option there as well.
7. Boasting Stout: Ravens rookie punter Jordan Stout was highly rated by the Patriots in this year’s draft, a source says, but the window to select him closed after New England beat the running back from the South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong Jr. in the fourth round (127th). The Ravens selected Penn State’s Stout three picks later, and now the Patriots will face him on Sunday. At the time, the Patriots were navigating a one-off contract negotiation with outgoing punter Jake Bailey, whom they later signed for an extension.
8. Wilfork’s story: Patriots Hall of Fame inductee Vince Wilfork recounted last week how he was reading Jack Tatum’s book ‘They Call Me Assassin’ until around 2 a.m. the day before the Patriots played the Ravens during the AFC Championship Game on January 22, 2012. It was a game Wilfork said he was most proud of – he made two plays in short-range situations to help seal a victory – and he credited Super Bowl champion Tatum’s safety book, whose nickname was “The Assassin,” for entering the game with the dominating mentality.
9. Number of peppers: Despite his best efforts, safety Jabrill Peppers was unable to remove No. 5 — which he wore at Michigan — from veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer. “It wasn’t close,” Peppers said. “So I had the next best thing.” That’s how Peppers, who wanted a single digit after carrying 22 and 21 with the Browns and Giants respectively, found himself No. 3 in New England.
10. Did you know? The Patriots’ 24 points are their lowest in two games since 2001, when they scored 20. They haven’t been held below 40 points in three games since 1995 (when they had 23).