The New England Patriots started their 2023 Training Camp on Wednesday with red-zone work, as they typically do under Bill Belichick.
After a season where scoring touchdowns from within the 20-yard line was difficult, Bill O’Brien’s new offence should start there. The offence underperformed in 2022 because New England had the NFL’s worst red zone touchdown rate at 42.2 percent.
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve always started there, and I know Coach Belichick has always done that,” quarterback Mac Jones told reporters after practise.
“Many defences let you get down there and then shut you off. It’s excellent to face our multifaceted defence, which does more than other teams. The red zone is a wonderful area to improve. I must improve.”
In a practise that favoured the defence, offence outcomes were uneven. It’s crucial not to overreact before the truly competitive camp practises.
The New England Patriots ran simple routes inside the ten-yard line. The defence had the advantage, and Kyle Dugger’s interception was the day’s highlight.
This time of year, a defence returning most of its starters and an offence learning a new playbook often leads.
Jones targeted tight end Mike Gesicki on his first semi-competitive play.
Dugger intercepted the ball by following the Pats tight end up the seam. In the first practise, the Pats defence broke up seven passes, which sounds ominous, but the team periods were in tight quarters.
The offense made some nice plays as well. Mac found Hunter Henry twice for touchdown passes, and Henry lost Christian Gonzalez for six points with a nice “shake” at the top of their route. Ty Montgomery was once again very productive, scoring four times, and Jones found Rhamondre Stevenson open on an angle route out of the backfield with linebacker Chris Board as the closest defender.
That’s why it’s so nice that our defence is so strong; they make it tough. To be a great camp is a terrific thing. The Patriots quarterback expressed optimism that the two teams would engage in a competitive back-and-forth. Trust establishes that. I think one term, “trust,” sums up this entire training camp.
Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, Ty Montgomery, DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton, Kendrick Bourne, Rhamondre Stevenson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster were the primary players with whom Jones worked.
To replace Mike Onwenu (PUP list), Bill Murray started at right guard in place of Trent Brown (left) and Riley Reiff (right) along the offensive line.
The New England Patriots had a large turnout on the first day, including NFI lister Calvin Anderson and Onwenu. That’s great news for the squad since it implies most of the players are fit and have passed the physicals.
Jones would do well to continue playing with Henry and to forge a friendship with Smith-Schuster. The Patriots quarterback also highlighted his team’s abundance of pass catchers.
Given the roster’s lack of a truly game-changing receiver, the team will need to win by creating mismatches for the quarterback and exploiting openings in coverage.
I think we have a terrific bunch, and that’s what we’re trying to mould into,” Jones added.
We’re very well-rounded. We’re going to collaborate on a discussion of the routes, including our preferences and any issues we’ve encountered.
There are some individuals in that locker who have seen extensive action at the NFL level. I’m just trying to have a better understanding of their perspective while also sharing mine, since both are essential.