I have been wanting to create a weekly mailbag series for quite some time now, and a few of you have sent me some great questions for this week! If you are interested in sending in Patriots-related questions, follow me on Twitter @CamSGarrity to know when I’ll be making my rounds for next week’s mail.
ChuckSchofield: "Are they (Patriots) going to let Mac improvise more, or will he remain a system's QB? And which style suits his skills better?"
Thank you for the question, Chuck. I think Mac Jones has a unique skill set that is bound for a zone running scheme that is being implemented right now. It is no secret that this is a Shanahan style offense, similar to the one being run in San Francisco right now. It is also no secret that Kyle Shanahan originally wanted Mac Jones at No. 3 overall but was talked out of it by general manager John Lynch.
With that being said, he fits really well in the system New England is trying to implement, and this may be another “rookie year” for him with growing pains. That style of offense relies on cerebral, athletic lineman, skilled ball carriers to gain yards after the catch (YAC) and keeping defenses honest. His accuracy and sneaky athleticism should allow him to thrive in a system like that. So I think we will see a different Mac than year one.
WeatherMaster34: "Will Jonnu Smith have a big breakout in year two with New England?"
Thanks for the submission WeatherMaster34! Jonnu Smith had a disappointing first year in New England, and that is no secret. But I truly believe he has the skill set to thrive in this new offense, but it will take time. There has been an emphasis all camp to get him more involved, and you can see the effort Mac has been putting in to get him involved, especially early after the snap. The hope is to get him back to doing what he did best in Tennessee, which is making plays with the ball in his hands.
MulveyJake: "How do you think the Patriot's secondary will fair against the Dolphins pass catching weapons for the season opener? Miami has a little bit of everything for pass catching weapons."
Great question, Jake. Thanks for sending one in! Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones looked solid all training camp on the outside, and with the emergence of Jack Jones and Shaun Wade on the outside, New England has more speed than they used to in the secondary. With that being said, Waddle and Cheetah are extremely fast and will be causing problems all season long.
New England won’t be able to stop them, unless the front seven, which looks much faster, can contain the short and intermediate routes from developing into huge gainers. I also think the front seven has looked much better generating pressure, which Tua has had trouble handling thus far in his career.
Sbrannen: "Will Damien Harris lead the team in touches over Rhamondre Stevenson?
Thanks Sbrannen for this one. I have been mulling over this myself all summer long. Stevenson looks like he is the back of the future, but Damien Harris has been a leader in the locker room and has been very dependable thus far. He also has a great relationship with the franchise quarterback and is still young with quite a few years left in him.
I think Damien will lead the way early, but Stevenson will take over towards the end of the year with his higher pass-catching upside. I would prefer both on the roster, as it can never hurt to have good depth. I think having 2 running backs and a third-down back is better than one third-down back with little to no depth.