2. JuJu Smith-Schuster
Sunday was far from a good showing by JuJu Smith-Schuster. The other big-name offseason arrival didn’t make much of an impact in his debut, totaling just 33 receiving yards on four catches.
Simply put, this isn’t the caliber of performance Smith-Schuster was signed for. He was outpaced by five other Pats players, including backup tight end Mike Gesiciki (36 yards) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (64 yards).
Even more concerning, Smith-Schuster didn’t take the field on the team’s final drive of the game with a chance to win it. Bill Belichick chalked it up to “rotations,” but I’m not buying it. You’d find a way to get your one of your keys player out there if he was performing well.
The truth of the matter is, the wideout wasn’t one of New England’s best pass-catchers on Sunday. It was Kendrick Bourne (6 catches, 64 yards, 2 TDs) and Hunter Henry (5 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD) who made plays with quarterback Mac Jones time and time again.
While those two are great complementary pieces, there is no excuse for Smith-Schuster to be outshined by both, especially on a day when No. 2 Devante Parker was out.
Making Smith-Schuster’s outing look even worse is the fact Jakobi Meyers starred for the Las Vegas Raiders (9/81/2) in Week 1. The Pats seemed to doubt Meyers’ ability as a leading man and showed confidence in Smith-Schuster to be that guy.
It’d be no surprise if some doubts are already creeping in, especially considering Smith-Schuster’s knee issue is potentially a bigger deal than expected. Hopefully swapping Meyers for the former Pro Bowler doesn’t blow up in the Pats’ faces.