His connection with quarterback Mac Jones did not develop quite like the New England Patriots had hoped when they signed Jonnu Smith to a four-year, $50 million contract last offseason. The former Tennessee Titans tight end played a comparatively marginal role in his first season as part of the Patriots’ offense.
All in all, Smith and Jones connected just 28 times during the 2021 season for a combined 294 yards and one touchdown. New England’s QB1 also threw two interceptions his way, while Smith dropped four passes and fumbled the ball once.
Needless to say that the duo has plenty of room for growth, but Smith himself is sounding quite confident in the man throwing him the ball. Appearing on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Monday, the 26-year-old sang Jones’ praises.
“Honestly, just the way he can turn it on,” Smith said when asked about what impressed him he most about Jones. “Mac is probably one of the goofiest guys in the locker room, to be honest. But when we step on that field, he’s just a different character. He’s just got so much ability and so much dog in him. Once he flips that switch, he’s a whole different character. Some guys don’t know how to cut that on and cut that off when it’s time to do it.
“He’s so young. He’s poised. He’s got a little swagger to him. I’m glad he’s throwing us passes. That’s my guy.”
Jones will be the centerpiece of the Patriots’ offense heading into 2022, but Smith will also be an important cog in the machine — one that needs to make its own second-year leap. After all, he was used primarily as an in-line blocker last season while being on the field for 46.8 percent of offensive snaps.
The sixth-year tight end becoming more of a factor as a receiving option would be big for New England’s offense, but he will naturally not be the only skill position player for Mac Jones to work with. The group as a hole was also positively mentioned by Smith, who pointed out both its talent and character.
“We just have so many talented guys in the locker room, even guys that are better outside of the locker room, outside of the gridiron,” he said. “Just a group of great guys all coming together for one common goal. I’m just confident, in every goal that we have set out to reach. It’s going to be something amazing to look forward to.”