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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Is it time to be concerned about Mac Jones?

Related: Patriots adapting to quarterback Mac Jones’ collegiate strengths in Year 2

New England Patriots (17 Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (14) At Heinz Field Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The New England Patriots are in the win column after a 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. As they prepare for their home opener, they will face another AFC North team in the Baltimore Ravens.

Let’s empty out the #PostPulpit mailbag as we get ready for Sunday’s matchup.

@BTWOM007 I have to think there is more in the offense than what we’ve seen...I know the talent is overall average but a little creativity would be helpful. Not a question per se but do you think we’ll see some more creativity out of the offense any time soon?

@AYEDONSZN why our offense so bad?

We talked about this at length in last week’s mailbag. The brief recap was the Patriots don't have the skill position talent to win matchups and games by themselves, so they needed to be more creative in their play designs.

They took a positive step forward in that department in Week 2, slightly increasing their usage of play-action while also dialing up RPOs for the first time this season. More of that should be on the horizon, especially play-action as they purposely kept it to a minimal as they faced two ultra-aggressive defenses to start the year.

One of the biggest takeaways from the victory over Pittsburgh was their ability to attack man-to-man defenses. The Patriots have seen a ton of man looks from opposing defenses of late and Mac Jones was not very good against those looks last season. As New England’s playmakers don't pose many threats one-on-one, defenses would match them in man and load up the box to stop the run.

Against Pittsburgh however, the Patriots attacked their man coverage with inside crosser and dig routes. They also struck their most explosive play of the season — Nelson Agholor’s 44-yard touchdown — after the Steelers rotated into a Cover 1 robber post-snap. As the high safety shades towards Hunter Henry’s crossing route on third down, Jones takes his shot to Agholor one-on-one down the sideline. Agholor makes the contested catch and the rest is history.

Moving forward, the Patriots offense would benefit if they can continue to prove they can beat man-to-man coverage consistently. More eye-candy to pair with that would really get this operation going.

Also, they’ll continue to look better as communication improves. The offensive line took a positive step forward in that department last week in the run game and keeping Mac Jones clean in the passing game.

@lukeobriendNFL How do you drop a question? Is it going to be Marcus Cannon comeback szn with the trade of JH?

@Skywal1Thaddeus With the departure of Justin Herron, do you think the Pats will sign Marcus Cannon to the active roster?

First, you just answered your own first question, Luke.

As for Marcus Cannon, I don't believe they would not have made this trade if they did not feel comfortable with Cannon, as well as Yodny Cajuste, who seemingly won the third tackle spot over Herron. I believe as of now they will keep Cannon on the practice squad and elevate him as/if needed.

@Space_Bandito What is preventing the TE’s from getting the ball?

@thenamberjuan Why if we sign two TE’s, we aren’t using them ?

To start, there’s something wrong with Hunter Henry. After being Mac Jones go-to guy at times last year, it’s been a disastrous start for Henry in Year 2. He’s hauled in just two receptions on four targets, and, while he’s never been much of a run blocker, has been flat out bad in that regard. It was likely the cause of New England using opting for three receiver sets with Lil’Jordan Humphrey on the field instead of their two-tight end sets.

The fall off makes it seem that Henry is dealing with something, perhaps the undisclosed injury that forced him to miss time during training camp.

As for Jonnu Smith, just continue to put him in areas to succeed. They tried last week to get him the ball on a short RPO pass but the play was blown up by Pittsburgh. Beyond that, short crossers, screens, hand-offs, and anything to get him the ball in space where he can use his run-after-catch skills. He also got open on a fade in Week 1 but was overthrown and has looked fluent running corners, getting open cleanly on one rep versus Pittsburgh.

@Ofc_Dibble Do see Mac’s INT or questionable decisions as a regression or still getting comfortable with new offense? ...FWW I think he’s still settling into new O

Sunday’s victory against Pittsburgh was one of Mac Jones’ worst games as a pro. He missed some reads and threw a bad interception, while recording another turnover-worthy play as well. There are times where his decision-making looks like it has regressed, which would be worrisome as his football IQ is one of his top strengths.

But again, two weeks in, new coaches, new system. Plus, he was in and out of practice last week with an illness and was bothered by a back problem. So, no, we aren't coming to any conclusions this early against Jones in that aspect. But, it’s the main storyline to continue to watch as we move forward.

@DynastyFFNow Parker had a lot of hype coming out of preseason, so far he hasn’t done too much early. Do you think he will become the preseason Parker going forward or kinda what we’ve seen so far?

It’s been a disappointing start for Parker, but it is only Week 2 still. I think the biggest thing here is just the timing and chemistry between him and Mac Jones is still a work in progress. There’s a reason players like Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne are currently the most consistent receiving threats for New England, as they have the best chemistry with their quarterback.

Moving forward, they likely want to keep Parker on the field in red zone situations, but they may need to reevaluate his usage elsewhere if this is the production he’ll provide. He’s currently played 109 offensive snaps and has just one catch on 60 routes. Getting Agholor and Bourne on the field more with some of those snaps may be the way to go.

@ZiGlizzy1 where is Marcus Jones

It’s been an interesting twist for Jones as he went from running with the ‘ones’ in training camp to being a healthy inactive in Week 2. It truly seems that it is just as simple as something behind the scenes, most likely just not showing enough on the practice field. As a rookie playing slot corner, that is enough for the team to ditch the upside and athleticism for a smart, reliable player like Myles Bryant. Until Jones shows them more or Bryant’s play forces a switch, I’d expect it to remain the same.

@markandrews72 Will dugger and Meyers play this weekend

Despite being present for the short media portion at the beginning of Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices, neither Dugger nor Meyers have practiced this week. It’s not a positive sign, and they would likely need at least a limited session Friday to have a shot on Sunday.

@oinwards How many drafts do we give up to get Lamar next offseason? I say 3

He’s an unrestricted free agent, so none. You’ll just have to be prepared to give up a lot — and I mean A LOT — of money - something Belichick alluded to this week.

@etcblod why didn’t the patriots acquire a better receive this past off-season

They did not want to give up premiere draft capital and then did not have the available funds to then sign any potential receiver to a new contract. Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and A.J. Brown all went for first-round picks and more, then signed $20-plus million dollar deals on average.

Marquise Brown also went for a first-round selection and is due for his fifth-year option next season. Amari Cooper could have been had from a value standpoint (fifth- and sixth-round pick), but is in the third year of a five-year, $100 million contract.

This is the usual now in the NFL. Wide receivers are premiere players, and the best way to secure an elite talent is to either pony up in terms of draft capital or in the checkbooks (and sometimes both).

@JeremeyT_Allan Who is someone you would like the patriots to target with their most likely Top 10 draft pick? A true WR 1 or what do you think we need?

As we just discussed, taking a top wide receiver talent if they have that premiere draft capital is tough to turn down. Jaxon-Smith Njigba or Kayshon Boutte could be game-changers on the offensive side of the ball.

I’d also expect them to take a tackle with one of their earlier picks next spring. Cornerback could also be in play. That’s a conversation we’ll save for a later time, however,

@bbelding Will we ever draft anyone from Georgia? Seems like an up and coming program. #GoDawgs

Are you forgetting about 2018 when they took both Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round? Can't get more Georgia than that, especially as they won the Super Bowl that year.

But seriously, I am always on board for drafting Georgia defensive players. We mentioned cornerback as a potential need above, and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo could be a first-round talent this year. Offensively, tackle Broderick Jones also could be in that same discussion. Again, a long way to go there.

@Betancourt10Bos Think we’ll see grey/silver pants in the future?

Hopefully. They teased them during the in-stadium practice this offseason, both with the old stripe (Bourne/Parker) and new stripe color-way (Jonnu). I think they look much better than the blue-on-blue look.

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!