JuJu Smith-Schuster compares learning Patriots offense to earning college degree

Perry: Smith-Schuster embracing study of complex Patriots playbook originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- The Patriots went out of their way to simplify their offense last year, trying to make life easier on players by shrinking what had become a bloated playbook assembled over more than two decades during the Tom Brady Era.

Newly-signed Patriots receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster provided some clues as to what the team will be asking of its offensive players this offseason -- our first such tidbit of insight of the spring -- and the first word that comes to mind is not "simple."

"If you saw what we study," he said, "we should get, like, a college degree for doing that, man."

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Smith-Schuster explained that the offense utilizes terminology he isn't familiar with from his time with the Chiefs or Steelers, which has forced him to put his head down and attack his studies.

"I would say this," he said. "I would say it is a very varied offense. I can say I'm definitely studying more. I'm getting the offense down. The terminology is different than what I've learned in the past. But that just goes to say, these coaches are really, really smart when it comes to football and just knowing the game, knowing defense, terminologies.

"Every day I'm growing here. I think that's what I love about being here. Every day I'm going to keep growing. I feel like I'm back in college or school again. After this, I'm going to go home, put a couple hours in, study, put on some Call of Duty, get back to studying, go to my flashcards -- I'm making flashcards. I got a lot of flashcards. It's awesome."

Smith-Schuster is expected to take on the slot-receiver role vacated by Jakobi Meyers when Meyers signed with the Raiders in free agency. He's similar to Meyers in that he has good size for the slot, and there's no doubt the Patriots will ask him to handle some of the more physical elements of playing tighter to the line of scrimmage that they have long asked of their receivers, Meyers included.

"No block, no rock," is a motto that receivers coach Troy Brown has used for years. Smith-Schuster will welcome that approach with open arms, it seems.

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"I love blocking," Smith-Schuster said. "I love doing the dirty work as far as going across the middle and catching the ball in traffic. Whatever Coach (Bill Belichick) has me do, I'm willing to do. No questions asked. As far as being a part of this offense, I think Bill (O'Brien) has something great planned for all of us. Whatever that is I'm happy with."

The Patriots will certainly be happy if Smith-Schuster can come away with his "degree" well before Week 1 and hit the ground running in an offense that can use as many capable pass-catchers as possible.