Their first year together was a productive one for Hunter Henry and Mac Jones. The New England Patriots’ high-priced free agency tight end and the rookie starting quarterback connected on 51 of 78 attempted passes for 633 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.
Henry ended the season as Jones’ second most targeted teammates behind only wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, establishing a solid chemistry with the young QB. Heading into their first full offseason together, the goal is clear: keep working on that connection to make it an even more productive one in 2022.
Henry expressed his excitement about doing just that during his end-of-season media conference call,
“This offseason will be huge,” he said. “That relationship and that chemistry goes a long way, and translates to the field. Just little things: growing our knowledge of the offense, the knowledge of the way we run routes, the way we see things, the way we see things against certain defenses. All that will continue to grow and only get better, so I’m excited about it.”
A former member of the Los Angeles Chargers, Henry arrived in New England via a three-year, $37.5 million free agency contract in mid-March. A few weeks later, Jones joined the team as the 15th overall selection in the draft.
The two did spend some time alongside each other over the course of training camp, but their connection did not take off until after incumbent starter Cam Newton was released. Henry acknowledged that it took some time for himself and the rest of the offense to develop a feel for playing alongside Jones, the Patriots’ QB2 throughout the summer.
“There was a lot of growth. Early on we were still just trying to figure each other out, in a away. We didn’t get many reps with Mac even in camp,” he said.
“It just took us time to build that chemistry, build in this system. And then we started clicking and then I felt like we picked it up mid-season, when we were really, really clicking.”
Now, the two will have a full offseason alongside each other — one that has both of them in clearly defined roles: Jones enters 2022 as the undisputed starting quarterback, while Henry is coming off a season in which he served as New England’s top receiving tight end.
Both will play a big part in helping the Patriots offense take the next step after what was a promising but ultimately inconsistent season for the unit. This process continues during the offseason.
“There’s stuff to build upon, there’s stuff to grow from,” Henry said.
“Anytime you have a season like we did — we had a lot of success, we have a lot of stuff we need to learn from, we didn’t start out how we wanted to, we didn’t really end how we wanted to, we had a good middle part of the season with that big winning streak — we’re going to sit back and reflect on the season. ... Look at the season as a whole, things that I can improve on, how I can help the team.”
Actively continuing to build the relationship with his quarterback will be a good start.