Mac Jones wasn’t tasked with throwing the deep ball very often during his rookie season with the New England Patriots.
Jones, the 2021 first-rounder, ranked 17th in completion air yards per game (119.2 yards) and 32nd among all quarterbacks to throw at least one pass in air yards per completion, per Sportradar. Of course, that’s not to say it was completely on Jones as New England’s 2021 offense was run-heavy with the passing game relying more on short to intermediate routes.
Jones, with the addition of the big-bodied DeVante Parker and an improved Nelson Agholor helping complement the effort, seemingly has done more stretching the field lately in training camp. He acknowledged it was a “big emphasis.”
“I think we want to take our matchups,” Jones said, per a team-provided transcript, “and if it’s there when I need to throw it and give them a chance to touch the ball and keep it in-bounds — like you said, there’s scenarios we go through where maybe it’s the last play of the game and you have to throw the ball, or whatever it is. Sometimes you wouldn’t do that on a first-down-and-ten, but that’s football.
“… I’m prepared for all the situations in the game, and then when they come up, we know we’ve already practiced them,” Jones continued. “Pushing the ball down the field has been a big emphasis, too, and obviously the line has provided time to do that.”
Agholor had one of his best days of training camp Wednesday, as pointed out by NESN’s Dakota Randall, with the Patriots facing the Las Vegas Raiders in joint practices. He caught four of the five balls thrown his way with a widely-hyped touchdown catch as Panthers defensive backs blanketed him.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a receiver who understands football as well as he does in terms of just general knowledge,” Jones said of Agholor.
The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Parker, who expressed how he looks at 50/50 balls more like 80/20 in his favor, also has impressed with his downfield skillset. Parker had arguably his best practice during New England’s first joint practice session Tuesday as he compiled five catches on seven targets.
“I think, like I said, our skill players have done a great job attacking the football. DP’s a really good vertical threat,” Jones said of Parker, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. “He’s really competitive, quiet in his own manner, but all those guys, they all bring a different trait to the receiver room.”
Hopefully, those traits from his receivers will allow Jones to show off some of the ones he’s improved on, too.
NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.