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Mac Jones’ deep throws show potential for a more explosive Patriots attack – NFL Nation

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit ideas and notes across the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. Mac’s deep ball: Spring practices are the appetizer to the primary menu, and quarterback Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense supplied a tasty preview of what they hope to be cooking in 2022.

The primary takeaway: There is potential for vital enchancment within the deep passing sport.

Jones delivered three downfield, tight-window throws within the closing follow of necessary minicamp that could not have been positioned any higher.

There was a excessive-arc ball down the left sideline to receiver Nelson Agholor, who had rookie cornerback Jack Jones operating stride-for-stride with him on a “go” route, so shut that Jones was tugging his jersey because the ball arrived.

Then a deep proper-to-left crossing path to tight finish Jonnu Smith, who hardly appeared open with security Kyle Dugger in his again pocket, however made a diving catch.

And lastly, a 50-yard bomb down the center to receiver Tre Nixon, who one way or the other pinned the drop-in-the-bucket throw to his chest along with his proper hand, as cornerback Jonathan Jones was throughout him. Jones appeared shocked on the completion primarily based on his protection.

They have been performs that sparked celebrations from the offense, and veteran security Devin McCourty referenced them as “haymakers” — nice throws and catches towards prime protection.

McCourty stated the way in which the offense and protection traded “big-time shots” towards one another this spring, with neither facet dominating, is the kind of signal he appears for when assessing the potential of a full workforce.

Specific to the offense, success within the deep passing sport might be the lacking piece to changing into a full attack.

Consider these nuggets from final season, through ESPN Stats & Information:

  • 41% of Jones’ cross makes an attempt thrown no less than 20 yards downfield have been over- or underthrown final season, an off-goal mark that ranked twenty first within the NFL (league common 36%).

  • Jones ranked twenty fourth with a 38.8% completion fee on vertical routes final season in keeping with NFL Next Gen Stats. His completion proportion above expectation on these throws was -4.5% (twenty sixth out of 31 certified QBs).

  • Jones had his most completions 20-plus yards downfield to receiver Jakobi Meyers (7-of-16), however struggled to attach with Agholor (4-of-17, 0 TD, 2 INT).

  • Patriots receivers ranked twenty fifth with only one.6 yards of separation on deep balls per NFL Next Gen Stats.

Jones felt “good strides” have been made in follow this spring, however harassed that the work should proceed.

“We want to be able to do whatever we want to do at any given time, whether that’s a run, pass, play-action — short, medium, or long. We’re trying to be able to have a little bit of variety,” he stated.

2. Rookie hustle: In 2003, when security Rodney Harrison signed with the Patriots as a free agent, he was training at a totally different tempo and popped receiver Troy Brown on one play. Nearly 20 years later, a parallel might be drawn to Patriots first-spherical decide Cole Strange, as on the ultimate play of follow Tuesday, the guard received tousled with outdoors linebacker Matthew Judon after a pack of gamers have been round a free soccer, and there was shouting on the sector.

No laborious emotions from Judon, who later highlighted one thing others across the Patriots have stated of Strange — he is all the time full-throttle (which was a Harrison staple).

“If you saw him, he was sprinting from 30 yards away,” Judon stated. “Great hustle from him.”

3. Eyes on Nixon: Nixon, a follow squad receiver (seventh spherical, 2021, Central Florida), made two of essentially the most spectacular performs this spring, so now the query is that if he can carry that momentum into coaching camp and make a cost for a roster spot. Agholor raved about him (“I don’t think there is anybody that trains as hard”), and Mac Jones defined that his reference to Nixon extends past the sector. They used to drive to the stadium collectively final season, take their COVID-19 checks, after which enter the constructing with one another.

4. Kendrick’s cake: Receiver Kendrick Bourne was given an excused absence for the primary follow of necessary minicamp as a part of his wedding ceremony celebration, and the workforce stunned him with a cake upon his return. It’s a second that displays the camaraderie and chemistry that may be developed presently on the NFL calendar.

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Check out among the finest performs from Arizona State’s Jack Jones as he gears up for the NFL draft.

5. Draft report: First impressions of the Patriots’ 2022 class:

  • G Cole Strange (first spherical): Plug-and-play starter at left guard

  • WR Tyquan Thornton (second): Speed as marketed; work as a gunner might be his ticket to land on the 46-man sport-day roster

  • DB Marcus Jones (third): Still in a purple non-contact jersey (shoulders); tasks as a returner and sub defender

  • CB Jack Jones (fourth): Sticky protection on the skin; curious to see if he could make a push to begin after wanting the half

  • RB Pierre Strong Jr. (fourth): Got a look as a kickoff returner, the place pace stood out

  • QB Bailey Zappe (fourth): Work ethic not in query; often one of many final gamers to depart the sector

  • RB Kevin Harris (sixth): Got an earful from particular groups coordinator Cam Achord for a blocking miscue on a kickoff return

  • DT Sam Roberts (sixth): Tough to evaluate a lot at his place with out pads and full contact

  • OL Chasen Hines/Andrew Stueber (sixth/seventh): Did not follow

6. Rookie worth: If Jack Jones emerges as a contributor after ending robust in spring practices, it might spotlight the monetary worth of receiving contributions from these enjoying on rookie contracts. Jones’ deal that he signed Thursday contains a $746,984 signing bonus (paid in two installments) and base salaries of $705,000, $870,000, $985,000 and $1.1 million. So his cap prices are simply $891,746, $1.05 million, $1.1 million and $1.2 million.

7. Fight On! As Jack Jones was answering questions from reporters final week, Agholor interrupted by calling out “Fight On!” It was a reference to USC’s combat music, as Agholor got here out of the college in 2015 and Jones started his profession there in 2016 earlier than ending up at Arizona State. They had a few notable battles on the Patriots’ follow subject in latest weeks after which shared smiles about their Trojan ties afterward. “I knew Nelly before I got up here; I used to see him around SC,” Jones stated. “I love competing with him. We make each other better.”

8. Belichick and Banda: Coach Bill Belichick has been palms-on with the offense, however within the workforce’s closing minicamp follow, he was noticeably palms-off. He spent the vast majority of the exercise twirling his whistle on the sideline and speaking with Utah State defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ephraim Banda. Belichick’s time is efficacious and the prolonged chat with Banda had me questioning more about his background and what might need piqued Belichick’s curiosity.

9. Health verify: Defensive deal with Byron Cowart and rookie offensive linemen Hines and Stueber are amongst these to observe medically when the Patriots return for coaching camp in late July. They have not practiced this spring, making them candidates for the bodily unable to carry out checklist if they do not make strides within the subsequent month. Meyers, operating again James White, rookie defensive again Marcus Jones and tight ends Dalton Keene and Hunter Henry have been restricted, so that they have some floor to make up as properly.

10. Did you already know? Receiver DeVante Parker, who hauled in a deep cross from Mac Jones final week whereas leaping over cornerback Jalen Mills, has essentially the most receptions on tight-window throws within the NFL over the previous 5 seasons (69), in keeping with NFL Next Gen Stats. Julio Jones (63) and Mike Williams (62) are subsequent on the checklist. Tight-window throws are outlined as lower than a yard of separation because the cross arrives.

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