Questions Linger As Patriots Training Camp Nears
With the offseason coming to a close, the Patriots still have some big questions to address. Will we get those answers during training camp?
Before any season begins, there are always a thousand questions waiting to be answered. Fortunately for the Patriots, one of their biggest concerns was dealt with last season with the drafting and the successful rookie year of Mac Jones.
But as training camp begins this week, several questions continue to loiter around New England.
Who will be calling plays on offense and defense?
This tops the list as the most asked question heading into this week. The Patriots gave their response with a memo last week revealing they won’t be handing out official titles to anyone, at least not before the season begins.
"“I’m not big on titles,” Belichick said in March. “We have jobs to do. We’ll do the jobs.”"
As for what Joe Judge and Matt Patricia will be doing this year? Both will work on offense; Judge as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach, while Patricia will work as a senior football advisor and offensive line coach.
How much input they will have with play-calling is yet to be seen. Even Belichick was seen working with the offense this spring, leaving many to wonder if he will be dabbling in the playbook himself once again.
During the next few weeks of training camp, there may be more insight shed into how involved they all may be.
How involved will the rookies be during camp
This is usually a fairly easy question to answer, given the history of rookies being red-shirted their first season in New England. But this year may be different.
Because Belichick has transformed some of his football philosophies over the past year, it’s possible rookies will have more involvement in not just training camp but also the season in general.
Once the draft concluded earlier this year, every coach that spoke to the media emphasized the desire for the team to get faster and to keep up with the ever-changing style of football in the NFL. If this is being treated with the utmost importance by Belichick and company, look for a handful of rookies to take the field this season.
With quickness remaining a key talking point when discussing the team’s wide receivers, Tyquan Thornton would drastically improve that right away. At the combine earlier this year, he was the quickest rookie of his class at the 40-yard-dash, and the sixth-fastest since 2003.
Meanwhile, running back Pierre Strong Jr. tied for the fastest among running backs. As James White’s return seems a bit unclear, Strong would bring not just the speed the team desires but also a reliable pass-catching back they’d otherwise be lacking.
Several other rookies will be working for a roster spot, but don’t necessarily count them out. The defense has a lot of young talent as it is, but the secondary will have intriguing competition this preseason.
Will Tre Nixon continue to stand out amongst the rest?
During voluntary OTAs, Nixon caught the eyes of fans and media alike with some big-time plays.
Following the end of minicamp, Nixon was seen training with Mac Jones along with other receivers and running backs, building upon the chemistry they developed so quickly. Will that continue into training camp? Could Nixon be a sneaky candidate to improve the offense this season?
How will Mac Jones’ offseason training change his play on the field?
Throughout the last few months, Mac Jones has been seen on social media working out all over the country with different coaches and several players from the offense.
He briefly discussed his changed mindset with a new exercise regimen and healthier eating habits, saying he enlisted the help of professionals to help drop the weight and get in better shape. He also worked with well-known throwing coach, Tom House, who is known to have worked with Tom Brady in the past.
After having a successful rookie season, there’s a lot of pressure on Jones to maintain his production while also improving on his weaknesses, and it’s clear he’s taken that seriously. His continuous efforts to improve not only his body but his performance was a highlight of this offseason. And he made sure to work with a plethora of different players on the offensive roster.
Now that Jones is the guy and there will be no quarterback competition this year, training camp will be much different this time around. Training camp will allow Jones to show all that he’s been working on since the spring. From his footwork to his throwing motion to his mobility, it will be exciting to see how the work he’s put in over the last several months will transfer to the football field.
If he can hone in on his confidence to command the offense while also demonstrating the work he’s done off the field, the Patriots will be in a much better spot now than they were last year.