ESPN Identifies Potential Patriots Bounce-Back Candidate For 2022 Season

Jonnu Smith should be more effective in 2022


August 16

The Patriots will be tweaking their offense heading into the 2022 NFL campaign, and it could bode well for a New England player who struggled last season.

Bill Belichick’s team won’t roster a traditional fullback in the upcoming season, which means we should see more two-tight end sets from the Patriots offense. Perhaps this will result in more targets for Jonnu Smith, who ESPN believes is in line for a bounce-back campaign after an underwhelming Year 1 in Foxboro.

“Smith spent the entire offseason in New England, which he didn’t do in 2021 due to a combination of COVID-19 considerations and anticipating the birth of his daughter,” Mike Reiss wrote in a column published Tuesday. “Offensive assistant Joe Judge said Smith had a ‘terrific’ offseason, and that has shown up early in training camp. A change at offensive coordinator might also benefit Smith, who seemed to fall out of favor with Josh McDaniels after some early struggles last season.”

As Pro Football Focus pointed out in the ESPN column, Smith wasn’t given much of an opportunity to right his ship over the course of the season. The 26-year-old only logged 525 snaps in 2021 and legitimately served as a pass-catcher on 166 (32%) of them. That’s not exactly great management of a player who’s proven to be highly effective with the football in his hands.

But Smith seemingly only can trend upward in 2022, and as Judge hinted, the veteran tight end is on the right track in starting to live up to the big contract he signed last year.

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