There is a lot of pressure on Mac Jones to perform this season, not just to help the Patriots win games but also to resume his position as the starting quarterback.
Although there's a fair argument that Bill Belichick didn't do enough for the offense in free agency to surround Jones with the talent needed to ensure he's successful, he added some quality players who have already made an impact so far this year.
Those that sit atop that list of signings, Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Gesicki, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, are yet to make much of an impression. But one under-the-radar practice squad elevation stood out in Sunday's game against the Jets, helping Jones make the longest touchdown pass of the 2023 season.
Who is that player? Oh, just tight end Pharaoh Brown.
We knew there would almost certainly be an uptick in tight end usage with O'Brien back as the offensive coordinator since he became famously known for the 2011 season with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But who could have predicted that of all the tight ends on the team, Brown would be the one with the most impressive touchdown reception through the first three weeks?
The score came early in the second quarter on a 1st and ten on the Patriots own 42-yard line. Jones threw a great pass to a wide-open Brown, scoring the first touchdown of the day with a 58-yard completion.
The touchdown marked Brown's first score since the 2020 season when he was with the Texans and just his third ever in his six-year career.
It was a great sequence and momentum shifter after the Patriots' last offensive drive ended in a missed field goal. It ensured they were playing ahead in the game rather than behind like they have this season so far.
It will be interesting to see how involved Brown will be in the offensive game plan. We've seen Hunter Henry appear to revert to his 2021 form, and we've seen flashes of what Gesicki can bring, so they'll surely not be sidelined no matter what. However, Brown becomes a bit more valuable from this game due to his apparent versatility since he was used as a fullback and as the only player to score against a difficult defense.
It would be very on-brand if a mostly unknown player rose to stardom on the Patriots, wouldn't it?