JuJu Smith-Schuster: Invoice O’Brien made his determination to hitch Patriots a ‘no-brainer’


“To deliver Mike [Gesicki] and all these different guys, these key items, it’s form of like, ‘wow’”.

New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (7) speaks with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, right, during an NFL football practice, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
JuJu Smith-Schuster likes what he is seen from New England’s offense beneath Invoice O’Brien. (AP Picture/Steven Senne)

FOXBOROUGH — As JuJu Smith-Schuster reeled in a top-tapping catch ultimately zone, Mac Jones — finger pointed within the air — rushed in to rejoice together with his new huge receiver.

Their revelry included a celebratory dance, a gesture that Smith-Schuster hopes turns into routine in the course of the 2023 season.

“Truthfully, Mac pulls up, we simply make up new dances as we go,” Smith-Schuster mentioned following Wednesday’s observe. “And that was simply one in every of many.”

Each Jones and Smith-Schuster had lots to rejoice on Wednesday.

For the primary time throughout Patriots coaching camp, Jones and the Patriots’ offense delivered a definitive knockout punch towards the workforce’s defensive personnel, with Invoice O’Brien’s revamped system resulting in a various aerial assault throughout a aggressive, padded observe.

Each Jones and Bailey Zappe accomplished 25 of their 29 passing makes an attempt on Wednesday, with Jones hitting eight totally different gamers for receptions. Smith-Schuster, a well-recognized presence out of the slot to this point throughout camp, was tied with Hunter Henry with three catches on throws from Jones.

Wednesday’s outcomes had been a welcome change from the primary week of camp, the place New England’s protection frequently thwarted any offensive momentum on red-zone drills and different passing sequences.

However over every week since full-squad practices started, it’s clear that O’Brien’s efforts to proper the ship of a dysfunctional Patriots offense are yielding constructive outcomes.

For Smith-Schuster, O’Brien’s arrival as New England’s new offensive coordinator performed a key function in why he determined to signal a three-year, $33 million contract with the workforce again in March.

“Once they received Invoice O’Brien, it was form of like a no brainer, simply because I understand how this method is and the way it works and the way he works the offense,” Smith-Schuster mentioned of what prompted him to sign up Foxborough. “[Bill] Belichick, as he’s as the top coach, to deliver [O’Brien] in and to deliver Mike [Gesicki] and all these different guys, these key items, it’s form of like, ‘wow’”.

After the primary few practices primarily noticed Jones accept short-yardage beneficial properties and checkdowns, the Patriots’ high sign caller has began to open up issues over the previous few days. Since Sunday’s observe, Jones has accomplished 38 of 49 passes, good for a completion share of 78 p.c.

“That dude, man, he’s a spark,” Smith-Schuster mentioned of Jones. “He’s a spark of our offense, it begins with him and we form of all simply feed off of it after which as soon as that’s going, the O-line to the working backs, the receivers, the tight ends — like we’re all simply pouring in and when he’s having enjoyable, we’re having enjoyable.”

Mac Jones’s personal development beneath O’Brien’s tutelage will possible decide simply how excessive this workforce’s ceiling might be in 2023. However Jones’s supporting forged has additionally stepped up to this point throughout camp.

Henry has served as a reliable security blanket in red-zone conditions, however Smith-Schuster’s elusiveness out of the slot has given Jones additional choices when requested to function with little time and area ultimately zone.

DeVante Parker’s measurement and athleticism has allowed him to haul in some “jump-ball” catches throughout aggressive practices, whereas extra contributors like rookie Demario Douglas have seen their inventory rise due to crisp route-running and stop-and-start explosiveness.

In fact, New England might want to proceed to construct off of Wednesday’s observe, and anticipate some push-back from a stout defensive unit. Different anticipated gamers like Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton want to point out extra throughout drills.

Positive aspects made in observe may even have to translate to recreation conditions towards opposing rosters, beginning with New England’s preseason opener towards the Texans on Aug. 10.

However to this point, Smith-Schuster likes what he sees from an offensive grouping that’s simply scratching the floor of their potential in the course of the early days of August.

“It takes time. There’s all the time room to enhance,” Smith-Schuster mentioned of New England’s offense. “And I might say final week, the previous days or even weeks we’ve been putting in new performs, and we’re lastly having the ability to go on the market and just about know what we all know. And we’ve mastered it.

“So this week was form of like a assessment week the place we’re stacking good days going into subsequent week and the next weeks … we’ve got to maintain dialing in and mastering these performs.”