The New England Patriots’ roster has been given a lot of grief lately. But some NFL analysts have still found ways to commend the group that Bill Belichick has put together.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks is one such analyst, who signaled Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry as the NFL’s best tight end tandem, when taking a look at the best duos in the NFL.
“Do not let the modest numbers put up by this veteran tandem in their first season together in New England (50 catches, 603 yards, nine TDs for Henry; 28 catches, 294 yards, one TD for Smith) overshadow their immense talent and potential,” Brooks wrote. “Henry, 27, and Smith, 26, are outstanding pass-catchers with the route-running savvy and instincts to find voids in coverage.
“In addition, they are interchangeable seam runners with the speed and quickness to scoot down the hashes on a variety of play-action passes that lure linebackers and safeties to the line of scrimmage. With quarterback Mac Jones expected to take his game up a notch after playing at a Pro Bowl level as a rookie, the Patriots’ dynamic duo could create plenty of headaches for opponents ill-equipped to deal with a versatile ’12’ personnel package.”
The Patriots made a splash when they signed both Henry and Smith to big money contracts in the 2021 offseason, but that duo seemed to underperform by many people’s standards. The Patriots struggled to find an offensive identity in 2021, and seemingly ran the ball whenever they would actually go to “12” personnel.
Perhaps under the tutelage of Matt Patricia, the tandem can improve in year two with New England.