The New England Patriots’ offensive line has struggled this season. Matt Patricia’s play-calling has been simplistic and predictable.
But one prominent former Patriots assistant doesn’t believe either of those factors has been the greatest impediment to Mac Jones’ Year 2 success.
Charlie Weis, the offensive coordinator for New England’s first three Super Bowl-winning teams, said this week on The Ringer’s “Off the Pike” podcast that Jones’ “biggest problem” is a lack of talent at the wide receiver position.
“I really like Jakobi Meyers as a receiver, but realistically tell me who the No. 1 receiver is that you’re concerned with every time you go to play against New England,” Weis said. “Therein lies the biggest problem. You can sit there and talk about Mac Jones and you can talk about Matt Patricia, but at the end of the day, when you watch the good teams play and you see who’s out there — even the Jets now, you look at their receivers now, they have good receivers. They do. You go against Buffalo, they have good receivers. You go against Miami, they have good receivers.”
The Patriots invested in wideouts in each of the last two offseasons, signing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in 2021 and then trading for DeVante Parker and using a second-round draft pick on Tyquan Thornton this past spring. But none of those players are elite-level talents, and each has offered middling production this season, with Agholor, Bourne, Parker and Thornton all ranking outside the top 100 in the NFL in receptions and outside the top 65 in receiving yards through 13 weeks.
Meyers remains the Patriots’ best and most reliable receiver, as he was in 2020 and 2021. The 2019 undrafted free agent is enjoying a career year and likely would be the top wideout available if he hits free agency this offseason, but even he is not a game-changer. Meyers is tied for 38th in catches (50) and 36th in receiving yards (593), though he has missed two games due to injury.
With the NFL growing more and more reliant on the passing game, the value of top-tier pass-catchers has increased in recent years. Each of the eight teams to reach the divisional round in last season’s playoffs boasted at least one premier receiver, and most of this year’s top teams feature one or more, as well: Stefon Diggs in Buffalo, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in Miami, Justin Jefferson in Minnesota, A.J. Brown in Philadelphia, tight end Travis Kelce in Kansas City, CeeDee Lamb in Dallas, Deebo Samuel in San Francisco, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in Cincinnati, etc.
“I’m not saying that the receivers from New England aren’t any good,” Weis said, “but I’m saying I don’t think any of those teams are trading their receivers for the Patriots receivers. So you want Mac Jones to get better? Go get him a couple of those guys. Go get the Tyreek Hills and add him to your roster. Tell me how much better Mac Jones would be. You want me to give you the answer to that? You want me to give you the secret? He’d be a lot better! OK?”
The Patriots rank a respectable 10th in yards per pass attempt and third in completion percentage this season, but they sit near the bottom of the league in most other offensive categories and have scored just five offensive touchdowns over their last five games. They’ll visit the Arizona Cardinals this week on “Monday Night Football.”