FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts and notes all around the New England Patriots and the NFL:
1. Support system of Mac: Patriots players have quarterback Mac Jones’ backs.
That was one of the resounding themes of the past week as the Patriots (1-1) prepared to host the Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox).
Jones and the Patriots earn their first win of the season, though parts of the quarterback’s performance as a sophomore — most notably an early interception and a potential pick dropped in the second half — drew some media criticism.
Some players didn’t seem to like that.
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A revealing moment occurred on Wednesday when longtime captain Devin McCourty answered questions from reporters in the media study room and Jones waited in the corner for his turn.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity to cheer Jones up as he listened, McCourty returned fire at a respected, longtime Patriots reporter. The reporter asked a question examining young quarterbacks and Jones’ progression in 2022 and drew a parallel with how McCourty had a productive rookie season before diving into Year 2.
“First of all, I would say that there aren’t many people who watch football and understand how to play quarterback. No matter what. Including you,” McCourty replied.
“He would be insane if he built his career on what people write and say about him because, for one thing, there aren’t many who have played that position at a high level and can do that consistently. You come out, play as a beginner, succeed, it sucks to say but everyone is waiting to write bad things about you. That’s just how everything works.
“I think he knows in that building every guy in that dressing room believes in him. Everyone in this locker room sees him not just as our quarterback, but as the captain of this team, the leader of this team.”
It was McCourty’s last reply, and as he walked away from the microphone to head for the exit, Jones clapped his hands softly and the two exchanged a handshake and a smile.
Privately, other veteran players have noted that Jones is running a new offense in his second NFL season and is adjusting to a new coaching setup without former Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels. Of course, they say, there will be an adjustment period.
In the team’s 1-1 start last season, Jones was 51 of 69 for 467 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Starting 1-1 this season, he is 42 of 65 for 465 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
When asked what he’s observed from Jones in terms of handling criticism, sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson said, “He’s a very mature quarterback. He knows what we have to do to get through this long season, what steps we have to take. I have all my confidence in this man.”
Stevenson is far from alone. That much was clear throughout the dressing room for the past week.
2. Meyer’s hope: As the Patriots wrapped up their last practice of the week on Friday, leading receiver Jakobi Meyers (left knee) hadn’t given up hope of playing the Ravens on Sunday, despite barely practicing all week. The 48 hours before kick-off is crucial as he leans towards a game-time decision – with the one caveat that coach Bill Belichick could still play it safe and take the decision out of Meyers’ hands. The injury originally occurred in the preseason finals against the Raiders and Meyers has struggled with various ailments ever since.
3. Bourne’s message: Receiver Kendrick Bourne was having lunch in his locker on Friday when a reporter approached. The gist of his message was simple: WWhatever we’re talking about, just don’t do it on me. “I’m happy here,” Bourne said. “Of course I want to play. But I want to help out where I can.” Bourne’s playing time was a hot topic after Week 1, when he only played two snaps. He played 23 in Week 2 as the Patriots go five deep into receivers with Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Bourne and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. If Meyers is unable to leave on Sunday, Bourne’s playing time could continue to rise.
4. Adjusting the invoices: How crucial were the Bills in their victories? Their last 20 regular-season wins have all been at least 10 points away, which Elias says ties with the Bears of 1941-42 for the longest such streak in NFL history. The last time they won by less than 10 points was in a 24-21 triumph over the Patriots on Nov. 1, 2020. That was the game in which Cam Newton had the Patriots on the cusp of a tied or game-winning drive , before fumbling it away with 31 seconds remaining.
5. Judon’s journey: Patriots outside linebacker Matthew Judon meets his former team, the Ravens, on Sunday. He said it’s “just another gameto him. Judon also credits the Ravens with helping him adjust to the Patriots. “The locker room and the guys that were in that locker room, it means something like here. They’re ready to take you to.” accept,” Judon said, adding that both teams are built on a winning culture. “We’ve seen places where good players go to some teams and it doesn’t seem to fit that way. I think I fit in well because everyone accepted in the dressing room.”
6. Praise for Humphrey: Huge receiver Humphrey was quickly promoted from practice to the Patriots’ 53-man roster after the first week of the season. Belichick said: “He’s an interesting guy. Doesn’t really fit into the mold for any particular position, but he’s a good footballer. I’m glad we have him.” Humphrey’s lockup and final drive clutch failure last week contributed to the team’s first win. Additionally, the Patriots have only two tight ends (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) and the 6-foot-4, 225-pound pass-catcher Humphrey is something of a No. 3 option there, too.
7. Tout Stout: Ravens rookie punter Jordan Stout was highly regarded by the Patriots in this year’s draft, according to a source, but the window to pick him closed after New England defeated South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong Jr. in the fourth round (127th). The Ravens selected Penn State’s Stout three picks later, and now the Patriots will face him on Sunday. At the time, the Patriots engaged in a unique contract negotiation with incumbent punter Jake Bailey, whom they later signed for an extension.
8. Wilfork’s Story: Vince Wilfork, who was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, shared last week how he read Jack Tatum’s book They Call Me Assassin until about 2 a.m. before the Patriots took on the Ravens in the Jan. 22, 2012 AFC Championship game lined up. It was a game Wilfork said he was most proud of – he made two plays in short yards to seal a win – and he penned the book of Super Bowl champion Safety Tatum, whose nickname was “Assassin.” ‘ was to come into play with the mentality to dominate.
9. Pepper’s Number: Despite his best efforts, safety Jabrill Peppers couldn’t take the No. 5 – which he wore in Michigan – away from veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer. “It wasn’t close,” Peppers said. “So I got the next best thing.” Thus, Peppers, who wanted single digits after carrying 22 and 21 with the Browns and Giants, respectively, landed at No. 3 in New England.
10. Did you know? The Patriots’ 24 points are the fewest in two games since 2001, when they had 20. They have not gone below 40 points in three games since 1995 (when they had 23).
https://www.espn.com/blog/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4825894/new-england-patriots-players-rallying-around-qb-mac-jones New England Patriots players rallying around QB Mac Jones – New England Patriots Blog