Rookie watch: should Marcus Jones see more playing time for Patriots?
By Fran Brown
For the second week in a row, there was not much to write home about regarding anything good from a Patriots rookie. Bailey Zappe did not see the field. Cole Strange had the worst game of his young career and was benched. Tyquan Thornton only saw two targets. Even Jack Jones was victimized, giving up two receptions for 86 yards.
Overall, not a great day but one rookie who did shine was Marcus Jones and it’s time we start seeing more of him. Jones did get on the field for 6 defensive snaps and was used in their two-minute defense at the end of the first half. He’s already taken punt return duties from Myles Bryant, now he needs to take his defensive duties as well.
Bryant was victimized once again on third down, giving up an eight-yard reception on third and six. Overall, quarterbacks are now 18/27 for 162 yards and two touchdowns while targeting Bryant, a 91.9 passer rating. It’s about time Jones takes on a larger role. Here’s how he and the rest of the rookie performed in Sunday’s win over the Jets.
Marcus Jones, A-
Jones only played six snaps on defense but was able to make one tackle in his time out there despite not being targeted. Through eight weeks, Jones has really only had a chance to make an impact on special teams and he shined again on Sunday. Jones had a career-best 32-yard return to help set up a field goal and is now fourth in the NFL in yards per punt return with 14.
Brenden Schooler, B+
It was bad enough that Schooler is the second-ranked rookie from Sunday’s game, but he was part of the reason why the Patriots had their best game of the year on special teams, other than two plays we’ll talk about later. The key play from Schooler was a tackle of kick returner Braxton Berrios at the Jets 17-yard line on a kickoff. It pushed the Jets back and thanks to a holding call and a three and out, it set up Jones’ punt return on a short field.
Jack Jones, C+
The good: Jones had five tackles on Sunday and provided enough pressure off the edge to affect a field goal from Greg Zuerlein to keep the Patriots ahead by three.
The bad: Jones gave up two receptions on two targets for 86 yards including a long catch and run late in the game after he did not wrap up. That led to a Jets touchdown to make things way more interesting than they needed to be.
Tyquan Thornton, C-
Thornton has rapidly climbed up the depth chart as his 61 offensive snaps were second among Patriots wide receivers only to Jakobi Meyers. However, Thornton was not much of an impact in this one as Mac Jones only targeted him twice, completing one pass for 13 yards against a tough Jets secondary.
Pierre Strong, C-
Strong still hasn’t carved out a role on offense but is starting to make an impact on special teams. He made a tackle on the opening kickoff and had a key block on Jones’ punt return. However, he also had an illegal block in the back penalty on another punt return which backed the Patriots up inside of their own 10-yard line.
DaMarcus Mitchell, C-
Mitchell made the other special teams gaffe of the afternoon. He hustled down the field and attempted to down a Jake Bailey punt at the Jets three-yard line. However, he rolled into the end zone with the ball and cost the Patriots 17 yards of field position.
Cole Strange, D-
Bad, just bad. It was going to be a tough matchup for Strange and the interior line without David Andrews on Sunday, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. Two holding penalties and one sack given up were enough for Strange to get benched for Isaiah Wynn in the second half. Overall, the offensive line as a unit was not good but Strange especially was very bad.
Bailey Zappe, Incomplete
For the first time since week three, Zappe did not see the field
Inactives: Kevin Harris and Sam Roberts