The Patriots have added another quarterback, and taken a quarterback away from Cincinnati at a time when the Bengals could use one.
Will Grier has signed from the Bengals’ practice squad to the Patriots’ 53-player roster, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
With Joe Burrow battling a calf injury, the loss of Grier at the very least means the Bengals are short on passers in practice. And if Burrow is unable to go this week, the Bengals will need a No. 2 quarterback, as the only other quarterback in Cincinnati is backup Jake Browning.
For the Patriots, it’s the latest in a long line of moves at the quarterback position. New England surprised everyone by cutting both Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham at the end of the preseason, then briefly signed Matt Corral, then brought Zappe back up to the active roster, then reportedly planned to bring Corral back to the practice squad, and now are adding Grier.
Grier has previously spent time with the Panthers and Cowboys. The Patriots face the Cowboys in Week Four and may think Grier can help their defense get ready.
Zach Wilson’s first start of the 2023 season didn’t go all that well, but the Jets have not deviated from their plan to stick with him as their starting quarterback in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ torn Achilles.
Given the way Wilson played in 2022, that decision has been met with some surprise and some derision. On Thursday, Wilson was asked if he saw it as a vote of confidence in him that the Jets have not looked for outside help at the position.
“I actually don’t look at it like that,” Wilson said, via SNY. “For me, I’m the guy right now and my number’s called and so I’m gonna go out there and do everything I can for this offense. That’s not something I really need to worry about. Right now, I have all the guys in the locker room behind me. I just gotta lay my trust in those guys and go play football.”
Wilson’s past outings against the Patriots have been rough, including a 9-of-22, 77-yard performance in a 10-3 Jets loss in Week 11 last season that got Wilson benched. Anything like that this Sunday will make it harder for the Jets to keep selling the status quo as the right move at quarterback.
Cornerback Jonathan Jones was back on the practice field for the Patriots on Wednesday.
Jones missed practice last Friday with an ankle injury and he was inactive for their loss to the Dolphins last Sunday night. Jones was listed as a limited participant in his return to practice.
Cornerback Marcus Jones did play against Miami, but he left the game with a shoulder injury. He did not participate in practice and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (not injury related) was the only other Patriot out of practice Wednesday.
Defensive tackle Christian Barmore (knee), left tackle Trent Brown (concussion), guard Michael Onwenu (ankle), wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), offensive lineman Sidy Sow (concussion), and guard Cole Strange (knee) were listed as limited participants.
The Patriots’ have thrown an NFL-high 96 passes, a pace that, if it lasted 17 games, would result in Mac Jones shattering the NFL record for attempts in a season. But Bill Belichick says that doesn’t say anything in particular about the Patriots’ offensive identity.
Asked today about the offense, Belichick said he doesn’t care whether they run or pass as long as they score.
“Look, that’ll fluctuate a little bit from game to game. Do what we think is best each game. Try to score as many points as we can,” Belichick said.
Belichick noted that running the ball a high number of times only matters if the team also wins the game.
“I’d like to score as many points as possible. More than the other team,” Belichick said. “What do you want to do? Run the ball 50 times? Is that a goal? All right, if you win, great. If you don’t then, so? We’ve won games throwing three passes and we’ve won games throwing 50 passes. So do what you need to do to win.”
Belichick can’t be happy that starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, while newly arrived backup Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 3.5. But the biggest issue for the Patriots is that they’ve been playing from behind for most of this season, which means they’ve been passing the ball a lot. They’re not 0-2 because they’ve been passing the ball so much, they’ve been passing the ball so much because they’ve been losing.
Rookie wide receiver Demario “Pop” Douglas has the longest catch of any Patriots wideout through two games this season, but he was stuck on the bench for most of last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.
Douglas lost a fumble that led to a Dolphins touchdown in the first half of the game and did not see the field on offense the rest of the way. It’s not the first time that a Patriots player has fallen out of favor under Bill Belichick because of a fumble, but offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said on Tuesday that benching Douglas wasn’t a sign of things to come in the future.
O’Brien said he thinks Douglas “will learn from what happened” and that he has not lost confidence in the sixth-round pick.
“Ball security is obviously a huge part of what we preach. I have a lot of confidence in Pop Douglas, as I do all the players that we have,” O’Brien said, via Nick O’Malley of MassLive.com. “I think as the game played out the other day, because of what we did, the packages that we went to, whether we were in no-hudle or some of the things that we were doing, It just wasn’t Pop on the field. At the end of the day, I think we have to do a better job of continuing to get everybody involved in the game plan throughout the game and that’s what we’ll do.”
At 0-2 with 37 points in two games, it is hard for the Patriots to shun any player who can help them put points on the board but it remains to be seen if the potential reward will outweigh the perceived risk of playing Douglas against the Jets this weekend.