Bill Belichick bristles at the idea of getting Jonnu Smith more involved in passing game

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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t seem pleased with a question about how little tight end Jonnu Smith has gotten involved in the team’s offense in 2021.

The tight end has experienced a number of setbacks, whether it was drops in Week 3 or a general lack of targets in other weeks, like Week 2 when he received just one. Smith has 11 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in a season that followed him signing a four-year contract worth $50 million. His performances haven’t met that pricetag.

So Belichick was asked whether the Patriots might get Smith more involved in the coming weeks.

“Again, we’ve talked about this multiple times,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “It’s not just throwing it to one guy in the passing game unless it’s a screen pass. To throw the ball, we need to have good team execution. Good protection, good route-running spacing in zones, and winning our individual matchups based on leverage in man-to-man coverage. And then the quarterback throws to the guy that’s open. The concept of just like throwing one guy 10 passes — I don’t really understand that.”

The Patriots have favored Hunter Henry, another free-agency signing, during the season, with him appearing like a more natural fit in the offense. Smith has played just 57% of offensive snaps to Henry’s 72%. That seems to be why Henry has 22 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns. It’s not a hugely impressive start to the season — but it’s better than what Smith has mustered.

It’s unclear, however, whether the Patriots have a plan in place to get Smith the ball. Belichick’s answer indicated that New England won’t go out of their way to make him a part of the offense. He’ll have to do that himself.

“Winning is at the top of my list rather than having a breakout game,” Smith said Wednesday.

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