Patriots

McDaniels admits he must 'do better' getting Jonnu Smith involved in offense

Patriots

The New England Patriots spent big money in free agency last offseason to sign the top two tight ends on the market, and only one of them has made a real impact.

Hunter Henry leads all tight ends with nine touchdown receptions. He's been a reliable target for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, especially in the red zone and crucial third downs.

Jonnu Smith, the Patriots' other high-priced tight end, has failed to meet expectations entering Week 17. He's tallied just 27 receptions for 274 yards and only one touchdown.

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Smith has barely been involved in the passing attack of late. He's been targeted two or fewer times in five of the last seven games. He was targeted zero times in Sunday's Week 16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels admitted Monday that he needs to find more ways to incorporate Smith into the passing game. 

“No, there’s no question about that: He’s a player that can do some things with the ball in his hands," McDaniels told reporters on a Zoom call. "We know that. Very talented guy, works really hard. I’ve got to do better to get him the ball.”

 

The Patriots have a favorable matchup in Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who own the league's worst record at 2-13 and have a defense that's given up the sixth-most points per game.

It's a great opportunity to get Smith more involved in the offense and build some much-needed chemistry between him and Jones before the playoffs arrive. Smith and Henry giving defenses matchup problems would go a long way in helping the Patriots make a deep playoff run in January.