The New England Patriots have a conundrum on their hands. With Mac Jones’ status for the foreseeable future uncertain, things could quickly take a turn for the worse in the upcoming weeks.
For now, let’s empty out the #PostPulpit mailbag before Sunday’s matchup at Lambeau Field.
@RJF05914332 Is Zappe a consideration to start?
It will be Brian Hoyer on Sunday if Mac Jones cannot go. While Zappe is an intriguing prospect, the Patriots are not in an evaluation point here. They are in “survive until Mac returns” mode.
Also, in my opinion, it would be unfair to give Zappe his first career start against a strong Packers defense at Lambeau Field.
@BrianCo84 A two part question, o-line and running game work hand in hand, what do both units need to do to take the pressure off of Hoyer? And where is our tight ends??
The Patriots will certainly rely on the rushing attack on Sunday — something they might have done even with Mac Jones under center. To start, New England’s ground game has been the most consistent way they've moved the football this season. Through three weeks, the Patriots have the highest rushing DVOA in all of football, via Football Outsiders. As for the Packers defense, their rush DVOA ranks dead last. So, expect a large amount of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris in this one.
As for the tight ends, it’s two different stories.
Start with Hunter Henry. While he’s never been known to be a force in the ground game, Henry has been a liability of sorts this season. When you look at the snap counts and see plenty of Lil’Jordan Humphrey, that’s why. Humphrey’s skillset and frame allows New England to play a pseudo-type of 12 personnel with a plus-run blocker on the field. As for the passing attack, they need to just find more ways to get him involved in the red zone.
On to Jonnu Smith, his usage continues to be frustrating. Smith has been one of New England’s best offensive players through the early parts of this season, but the production does not align. He’s been strong in the run game, but we’ll keep banging the drum for them to get Smith the ball in space in the passing attack.
@Skywal1Thaddeus With it looking like Hoyer is going to start week 1, could you see the Tight End group getting more receptions?
Now, could those things we just touched on happen with Hoyer under center? I can certainly see Hoyer targeting the duo more as they work the short and intermediate areas of the field. I’d expect more Jonnu Smith, hopefully allowing him to work after the catch. As for Henry, he and Mac Jones had a strong connection on trust throws to spots last season, something the tight end and Hoyer may not have right away.
@VFootballwr How much do you think they will make Hoyer throw on Sunday?
As we touched on, the Patriots will likely try to rely on their run game on Sunday. But, they can only do so if the defense is able to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. If Rodgers and his new receiving core are able to move the football, New England will need to rely on Hoyer’s arm more to try and keep pace.
@MKDONS_H Why isn’t Pierr Strong Jr getting snaps? Feel he could really help the run game with his 4.3 speed
To be honest, they don't really need Strong at the moment. The duo of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson provide more than enough on the ground and through the air to have to turn too Strong. After working through an injury resulted in a slow summer, Strong likely won't be relied on on offense unless he’s absolutely needed to be.
@CapnstitchSr When can thornton be back
Tyquan Thornton is eligible to be activated off the injured reserve after Week 4. We have not heard any update on the rookie receiver, but we are now five weeks into his original six-to-eight week recovery window. So, it might be a few more weeks before we see the speedster on the field.
@sumeetsumeet4 Why haven’t we seen a lot of hurry up offense?
My best guess is they leave it on the back burner as they still work through the early stages of communication issues and new schemes. Hopefully as things get more fluent they feature it more with Jones at quarterback. He’s shown strong ability when running it.
@patsdowney what do when mac gets back if hoyer absolutely shows out when mac’s hurt?
They will thank Hoyer for his work and go right back to Mac. The main thing that truly matters for the Patriots this season is to develop Jones as much as possible. He needs to be on the field to do so.
@SHHGrindcore With such a quality draft pick coming next year, do you see us actually taking someone in the first and who do you think theyd be looking at already
It’s too early to talk about specific players in most cases, but I think wide receiver and offensive tackle are two positions that will certainly be at the top of their list. From there, perhaps cornerback and EDGE.
@ZachLazerKraft Why is this happening to us
We had 20 years of unrivaled success, we should have seen this coming.
@meeher128 When will New England move to England
When will they stop showing Boston’s skyline after commercial breaks during prime time home games?
@PatsUniversity Why will Hoyer the Destroyer go undefeated as a starter?
His name is Axel. Axel’s don't lose football games.