How Drake Maye could benefit from one aspect of Patriots' rebuild

How Drake Maye could benefit from one aspect of Patriots' rebuild originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Over the past two seasons, the Patriots scored a total of 56 offensive touchdowns.

That’s only eight more than they had in 2021 alone, the final season for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the rookie season for Mac Jones.

To say they lost their way offensively since McDaniels left would be an understatement. They were lost. No compass. No satellite phone. Off the grid.

This year, at least they have a map. Nobody knows where it leads, but they have one. And everyone’s at Point A, which should help the newest rookie first-rounder Drake Maye and his development, according to Brian Hoyer.

“I think he's in a beneficial situation because everybody who's there is learning a new system,” Hoyer explained on our Patriots Talk Podcast. “He's not that far behind. Now, Jacoby (Brissett has) played in this system before and a few other guys have. But really … they want to install for everybody. So he's not missing out on a lot.”

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During their first round of voluntary OTAs last week, Maye was running third in quarterback reps behind Brissett and Bailey Zappe. Not shocking. Maye’s new. But it does underscore that this could be a much more methodical approach rather than full-immersion for the third overall pick.

This is what the Patriots will want to see, said Hoyer.

“What you do with the young guy is: give him the install, then let him go out there and practice. See how he responds. If he does well, you take the next step. Now everybody's going to have to take that next step.

"If he does well with OTA install one, then the next day you focus more on OTA two and then come back and see, how does he retain Day One? Then how does he retain Day Two? Then keep pushing forward.

“When you have a new coaching staff coming in, they are literally teaching base fundamentals, base formations, motions, pass concepts, pass protections,” added Hoyer. "That's what everybody's focusing on now. When you're installing a base offense in your first year, everybody's learning the same things at the same time. So that's probably really great for a rookie quarterback because there's not someone who's light years ahead of him in the system.”

Maye’s reps and development will be in the spotlight again Wednesday as the Patriots have their second OTA open to media. His learning curve won’t be close to the one Hoyer or Jones faced as rookies.

“Looking back on my career, when I was in this Patriots offense, they had 20 years stacked on each other,” said Hoyer. “So, when it was OTAs, we were experimenting with things. We weren’t even talking about setting the foundation. A foundation had already been laid and the guys who were new needed to catch up. The guys who had been there were going to try new things, try people at different positions, different formations and things like that.

“In the past, up until Josh (McDaniels) left, it was like, ‘We kind of know what our base offense is. What kind of wrinkles can we put in this year that are going to kind of give people problems? What kind of motions are we going to put in speed motions?' Things like that."

That Jones was able to mentally jump on a moving train in 2021 is something Hoyer still marvels at.

“I sat there and watched him progress as a rookie and I'm like, ‘They have to be like telling him what's coming up' because of the way he would progress so quickly.

“Now, there were days that he faltered, no doubt. And they would be like, ‘OK, we need to we need to scale that back a little bit and retouch on some of these things.’ But I'll never forget those (joint) practices against the Giants his rookie year. Cam (Newton) was out with COVID. I had injured my knee. I couldn't do anything. He's it. He took like 80 reps. And out of those 80 reps, I think his completion percentage was off the chart.

"And that's when I realized, ‘This kid gets it mentally and is going out there and exceeding the expectations.’ That's kind of where I was like, ‘He's going to be the starting quarterback,' because along the way he just progressed, progressed, progressed. He had a step back here or there, but he overcame those. And basically you could see the guys around him being like, ‘This guy's ready to play and he's going to be our quarterback.’”

In Maye, the Patriots kind of have the anti-Mac. The build, the arm, the off-platform ability, the athleticism, the downfield arm are all pluses for Maye. But, unlike Jones (2021 version), Maye’s not pinpoint accurate, he’s not as crisp with his feet and he’s not an elite pre-snap or post-snap processor of defenses.

How long will that take to master? And is it difficult to know a region’s waiting on his development?

“I've lived through this,” said Hoyer. “The media can only come one day a week, and I remember there was a time in OTAs where (the media) was there, and maybe I didn't have the greatest day, but the two days before that I threw a bunch of touchdowns and, of course, that's the one day you get to write things up.

“For (Maye), you have to ignore what the media is saying. You have to ignore what everybody's saying and just progress one day after another and let the chips fall where they may. And I think that's probably the best way for him to approach is to take the install, go out there, perform the best he can, come back, regroup, see where he can get better.”

While Maye has the Brissett Buffer that the two quarterbacks taken before him – Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels – do not, he needs to understand things can change quickly.

“For Drake, you're the third pick in the draft. You had the two guys (drafted) ahead of you that are going to be the day-one starter,” said Hoyer. “We don't know where you're going to be, but you better prepare that way and you better learn from the guy ahead of you so when that opportunity comes, it's not like you weren't expecting it.”