The New England Patriots didn’t get what they expected from Jonnu Smith when he signed a four-year, $50 million contract in 2021. His performances in 2022 will be key to success. of his team.
The combination of Smith’s talent, poor performance in 2021 and the sizable signing he signed has made the upcoming season important. Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey calls Smith the Patriots’ biggest X-Factor in 2022.
Smith showed the emergence of a weapon in the Patriots attack that made life easier for defender Mac Jones. In 2020, Smith’s final year with the Tennessee Titans, he made 41 receptions for 448 yards and 8 TDs.
What he’s producing for the Patriots in 2021 is a far cry from that production level. Smith’s modest total of 28 tackles, 294 yards and 1 TD is not only far less impact than you’d expect from a player signed to a lucrative free agent contract, the offense The team’s is simply worse with him on the field.
For New England’s offense to hit all turrets, they’ll need to get something out of their tight double-headed set. If the Patriots can effectively pass and flee with two receivers, two choppers and one run back, that would add versatility to their attack.
If Smith isn’t as productive in 2022 as it is in 2021, it won’t be easy. There’s been some pressure on Smith this season, but he’s not the only one.
While he hasn’t signed a lucrative contract like Smith, the Patriots’ biggest off-season acquisition this year is former Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. The Patriots traded the third pick to the Dolphins in exchange for Parker and the player on the fifth turn.
The compensation isn’t terribly heavy, but the load Parker is expected to carry is remarkable. The Patriots haven’t had a true #1 receiver for years. Some say it dates back to when Randy Moss helped Tom Brady rewrite the record books. N’Keal Harry was supposed to end the drought, but that hasn’t worked out since he was drafted with the final pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The 6’3 and 219 pound Parker is the kind of physical receiver that delivers nightmares about the dark corners. He’s also the only Patriots player on the list to have had a 1,000-yard season in his career.
In 2019, Parker received 1,202 yards for the Dolphins. New England is hoping he can recapture some of that magic.
The pressure is not just for the attacking players. Arguably the biggest weakness in the Patriots lineup is at full-back. New England lost JC Jackson in free agency to the Los Angeles Chargers.
New England looks to an old face to replace him. Malcolm Butler was a Super Bowl hero for the Patriots, but he won’t be playing in 2021. The Patriots have signed him for this season in the hopes that he can help bolster the defense beyond past of New England.
Butler is 32 years old, which isn’t ancient, and he’s played all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans in 2020 and has four interceptions. Still, with him missing an entire season, it’s reasonable to wonder if Butler has missed a step.
If he can anchor the defense like a true No. 1 corner, he could be the unit’s most important player.
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https://heavy.com/sports/new-england-patriots/jonnu-smith-x-factor/ Jonnu Smith names Patriots’ X-Factor for 2022