Why Hunter Henry is shopping for right into a bounce-back season for Mac Jones


“All of the stuff previously, it doesn’t matter.”

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones celebrates his touchdown reception with Hunter Henry against the Tampa Bay Bucs during fourth quarter NFL action at Gillette Stadium.
Mac Jones and Hunter Henry discovered loads of success within the crimson zone through the 2021 season. Matthew J Lee / Globe Employees

The 2023 Patriots’ hopes for a visit again to the playoffs may fall on the shoulders of Mac Jones and his means to execute in Invoice O’Brien’s revamped offense.

Regardless of Jones’ lackluster manufacturing in Matt Patricia’s offense final season (14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions over 14 video games), the 25-year-old QB impressed beneath Josh McDaniels’ tutelage as a rookie, incomes a Professional Bowl nod in 2021.

O’Brien’s familiarity with each McDaniels’ system in New England and the Alabama offense during which Jones thrived ought to profit New England’s quarterback, particularly given O’Brien’s propensity for drawing up RPOs (run-pass choices), screens and different short-passing performs that cater to Jones’ skillset.

However past New England’s revamped gameplan, tight finish Hunter Henry believes that Jones’ personal mindset is the highest motive why he’s due for a bounce-back yr in 2023.

“Mac’s all the time been constant in who he’s,” Henry mentioned Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “However this yr, I really feel like he’s simply been tremendous, tremendous constant always. Within the constructing, exterior the constructing, on the sphere, off the sphere. He’s an amazing chief, and he’s enjoyable to go on the market and compete with.

“We’ve had a variety of good competitors this final month with our protection, and it’s been enjoyable, so I’m excited to go on the market and start that journey with him by way of the season this yr. However he’s doing a unbelievable job, and he’s enjoyable to go on the market to work with.”

One other yr faraway from shoulder surgical procedure again in 2022, a wholesome Henry could possibly be a key conduit in Jones’ resurgence beneath middle this fall.

Henry was Jones’ most reliable red-zone goal in 2021, reeling in 9 touchdowns for a Patriots offense that ranked eleventh in landing proportion (61.9%) after getting inside the 20-yard line.

However Henry was misplaced within the shuffle with final yr’s dysfunctional offense, hauling in simply two touchdowns over 17 video games whereas solely averaging 29.9 receiving yards per sport, the bottom of his seven-year profession.

Jones has unfold the wealth on offense to date through the preseason, however Henry has been a well-known goal throughout red-zone drills all through the summer time.

Forward of a pivotal season, Henry believes that Jones is in the appropriate mindset in relation to turning the web page on 2022 and placing his greatest foot ahead.

“He’s all the time had my respect,” Henry mentioned of Jones. “I believe yearly, although, as a participant and as gamers, all of us try to earn our teammates’ respect, our coaches’ respect. That’s a part of the method. That’s you as a competitor. That’s you as a participant. Once I step on the market on the sphere, particularly at the start of camp, I’m making an attempt to earn my teammates’ respect.

“All of the stuff previously, it doesn’t matter. Clearly, it helps me course of issues and do issues, however I’ve bought to earn it once more each single day. So that you type of need to take that strategy, and I believe he’s carried out an amazing job of doing that. I’ve all the time had respect for him, and he’s doing an amazing job.”