Malik Cunningham’s season debut with the Patriots in Las Vegas didn’t present the shot within the arm that some anticipated for New England’s woeful offense.
Located on the observe squad for the primary 5 weeks of regular-season play, Cunningham signed a three-year contract with New England final week. Now mounted on the energetic roster, Cunningham slotted in behind Mac Jones because the No. 2 QB coming into Sunday’s sport towards the Raiders.
However regardless of Cunningham’s distinctive skillset and the unsteady floor that Jones finds himself on as QB1, Cunningham was extra of a footnote than a featured participant in what was one other lackluster exhibiting from New England’s offensive unit at Allegiant Stadium.
Cunningham in the end performed simply six snaps throughout Sunday’s 21-17 loss, lining up as a receiver 4 instances. He completed the sport with zero targets, zero carries, and nil go makes an attempt. The one play seemingly drawn up for Cunningham within the fourth quarter was a pretend handoff to Ezekiel Elliott, nevertheless it resulted in a Raiders sack and a lack of 5 yards.
It was a muted debut for Cunningham and a perplexing personnel resolution for the Patriots, provided that Cunningham has seemingly leapfrogged each Bailey Zappe and Will Grier on the staff’s depth chart.
As anticipated, Belichick didn’t elaborate a lot on Wednesday morning when requested concerning the staff’s plans for Cunningham on offense shifting ahead.
“We’ll work our approach by means of that roster state of affairs as we undergo the week,” Belichick stated. “I’m not going to speak how we’re going to play the sport.”
As for a situation the place Belichick could be comfy taking part in Cunningham for prolonged reps at quarterback?
“I imply, look he’s a younger participant so he’s bettering,” Belichick added. “We’ll see the way it goes.”
The Patriots could be preserving their playing cards near their chest with regards to Cunningham’s utilization and his position on a New England offense in determined want of some playmakers.
On Wednesday morning, ESPN NFL insider Dan Graziano provided up his evaluation of Cunningham and the way New England plans on incorporating him into its stagnant offensive personnel.
“The Patriots signed practice-squad rookie QB/WR Malik Cunningham to their energetic roster over the weekend, and it wasn’t a throwaway transaction,” Graziano wrote. “I’m instructed the coaches are discussing methods to work Cunningham into the sport plan in a considerably important approach, presumably as early as this week towards Buffalo. The Patriots thought they put forth a greater effort Sunday towards the Raiders, however they nonetheless misplaced the sport and are trying for lots extra from the quarterback place than what Mac Jones is giving them.
“Might Cunningham supplant Jones because the starter? Something’s attainable, however we’re a methods away from that being a consideration. What Cunningham might give the Pats is a little bit little bit of a unique take a look at the place, mixing in some quarterback runs and shifting the pocket to assist diversify and broaden the passing sport.
“Once more, that is all nonetheless hypothetical at this level, as a result of the Patriots are nonetheless not solely certain what the rookie is able to doing on the NFL stage at this level. Cunningham was energetic for Sunday’s sport however performed simply six snaps. I wouldn’t be stunned to see that quantity go up as New England continues to seek for one thing to spark its dormant offense. Actually, what do the Pats should lose at this level?”
Graziano definitely makes a compelling argument with regards to the state of New England’s offense and the dearth of threat that comes with doubtlessly handing the keys to Cunningham at this level of the season. New England is already mired in a 1-5 begin with two daunting matchups developing towards the Payments and Dolphins.
Whether or not it’s using him extra as a gadget participant and even asking him to take extra snaps beneath heart, the Patriots ought to discover extra avenues so as to add a dynamic participant like Cunningham into their offensive schemes, beginning on Sunday afternoon towards Buffalo.
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