In Mac Jones He Trusts? JuJu Smith-Schuster Confident New England Patriots QB Has Loaded Group

    Mac Jones managed to avoid a draft day trade. Now, his newest wide receiver gives a vote of confidence for the third-year Patriots quarterback.

    In Mac Jones He Trusts? JuJu Smith-Schuster Confident New England Patriots QB Has Loaded Group

    When JuJu Smith-Schuster signed his three-year, $25.5 million deal with the New England Patriots in March, the signing came with the question of wondering who would really throw him the football — as Mac Jones was the subject of trade chatter.

    But now, after the 2023 NFL Draft, the 2021 first-round quarterback remains in Foxborough. And to Jones’ benefit, his newest wide receiver has given him a vote of confidence ahead of 2023.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster Convinced Mac Jones Has Loaded Group Surrounding Him

    Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, two days after the draft, the veteran and 2018 Pro Bowler Smith-Schuster got asked if Jones is surrounded by enough talent to excel.

    “Most definitely, most definitely. We definitely have enough,” Smith-Schuster said. “We’ve got guys who can run down the field. We’ve got guys that can do a lot of different things. What’s crazy about this offense that I didn’t know about until I got here was that there’s guys that play both ways. There’s guys that can play receiver, that can play in the backfield, and seeing that you can have so many different weapons with these players, it just gives Mac these opportunities to do whatever he wants.”

    All eyes near the Boston region will be on Jones this fall, as he now gets a renewed opportunity to prove he’s the future behind center moving forward for the six-time Super Bowl champs.

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    Jones, 24, has given the Pats mixed results in the post-Tom Brady realm. After earning a Pro Bowl nod his rookie season, which included a playoff Wild Card berth, Jones’ numbers dipped in 2022 — throwing eight touchdowns less than his 22 from his rookie season while also going 6-8 overall as a starter.

    Jones then had to fend off Bailey Zappe as the starter, which included numerous reports that there were Pats who favored the 2022 fourth-rounder out of Western Kentucky.

    However, NFL Insider Mike Giardi of the NFL Network reported on April 14 that an unnamed Pats player told him, “Mac’s not afraid of competition. That’s all he wants to do, compete. I think people are underestimating him and that can only help us.”

    How Smith-Schuster Can Bolster the Patriots’ Offense

    Smith-Schuster is coming in as the lone Pro Bowler for this WR group. However, his last appearance in the NFL’s all-star event was five years ago.

    Nevertheless, Smith-Schuster’s capable of adding a needed spark to an offense that ranked 20th in aerial yards and didn’t produce a 900-yard receiver.

    The Super Bowl-winning wideout with the Kansas City Chiefs managed to snatch 78 catches for 933 yards and scored three touchdowns playing in a loaded offense conducted by Patrick Mahomes. When healthy — plus when he’s started in more than 13 games in a year — Smith-Schuster has surpassed 77 catches and 830 yards. The 2017 second-rounder has averaged 66.8 catches and nearly 800 yards each season.

    Under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, Smith-Schuster can give him someone who has made his mark on out, flat, and slant routes. He gives the Pats more of a “papercut” type option with the ability to attack secondaries by planting and cutting to gain separation.

    O’Brien’s system is more built to attack soft spots — which strays away from Matt Patricia and Joe Judge’s vertical and deep approach. This offense has the feel of being a fit for Smith-Schuster. But will the rest of the group benefit with him?

    The Patriots’ WR Room and Smith-Schuster’s Prediction

    Gone is leading wideout Jakobi Meyers, who’s now with the Las Vegas Raiders. The rest of the Patriots’ wide receiver room is either injury-prone or a question mark.

    Second-leading WR DeVante Parker has had an oft-injured career, including dealing with a knee sprain and Grade 2 concussion in 2022. Meanwhile, Kendrick Bourne started in just two games and saw his numbers decline from his first season in New England.

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    Tyquan Thornton has electric speed at 4.28 but only caught 22 passes and averaged 11.2 yards per catch in his rookie season. Then there are newcomers Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas, who were Day 3 finds in the draft.

    As mentioned, it’s a group with question marks, but Smith-Schuster believes it’s the kind of room that benefits Jones and the Pats.

    “For Mac, the sky is the limit,” Smith-Schuster said. “With the guys that we have here and all the weapons, it’s gonna be a fun year.”