Sunday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith. And he’s looking to put it behind him.
One day after catching just one pass on six targets for 4 yards in a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Smith said he intends to “quickly turn the page.”
“Even through success in this league, you can’t dwell on the week prior, you know what I mean?” he said Monday in a video conference. “You just have to have enough mental toughness to keep moving forward, no matter what was the result of last week, because it’s a long season. There’s a lot of football left to be played, man. You’ve just got to be able to turn that page quickly.”
Smith struggled in every facet in Sunday’s game, his third with the Patriots. He couldn’t hold up as a run blocker. He was flagged for holding. He dropped at least two passes from rookie quarterback Mac Jones, including one on the opening play of the second half that resulted in a Saints pick six.
That score stuck New England in a 21-3 hole, limiting its offensive options for much of the second half.
“Mac threw a catchable ball,” Smith said. “Mac did everything right. I’ve just got to make that play that I know I can make — and that I will make when the opportunity presents itself. … It’s not on his end. I put that on myself. Every ball he threw to me yesterday was catchable, catches that I’ve made, that I know I can make. Unfortunately just couldn’t come up with them.”
Smith, who looked awkward and unsure on his drop-turned-touchdown, said he feels “absolutely” comfortable in New England’s offense, which can be difficult for new players to master. He caught five passes in Week 1 and four in Week 2 but has yet to showcase the run-after-catch playmaking ability that made him a dangerous offensive weapon for the Tennessee Titans.
Just three of Smith’s 10 catches this season have gone for Patriots first downs.
“That’s the least of my worries, me being comfortable in the system,” Smith said. “I’m extremely comfortable in this system, comfortable with my role in the system. My biggest thing is my teammates, man, and this organization and just not performing well enough to put us in a position to win. That’s what eats me up the most as a competitor, as a teammate, someone that you count on and depend on, and it’s upsetting.
“But man, I’m looking forward to next week, man, as we all are. We’re flipping a new page and we’re just going forward.”
The Patriots’ next opponent is the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who employ both Tom Brady and former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski is in the midst of a late-career resurgence that began late last season, catching 16 passes for 184 yards with four touchdowns through Tampa’s first three games.
Smith and Hunter Henry — signed to hefty contracts early in free agency to provide the type of tight end production New England has lacked since Gronk left in 2019 — have combined for 20 receptions for 183 yards with no scores thus far.
Henry caught five passes on six targets for 36 yards against the Saints and committed a costly false start penalty on a fourth-and-1. Neither tight end has lived up to his $12.5 million-per-year investment to this point, and the Patriots’ offense as a whole has languished, scoring just four touchdowns in three games.
“I’ve got to have a certain level of honesty with myself in the mirror, man,” Smith said. “But the great thing about it is I have another opportunity. I didn’t put my best product out there (Sunday). I know that. The whole world knows that. But I know the player I am, I’m confident in the player I am, and I’m just looking forward to moving forward.”