New England Patriots fans, we’re sorry, but we have a dreaded question for the 2022 NFL season: Are Mac Jones and Rhamondre Stevenson in danger of sophomore slumps?
With the new campaign upon us and the schedule now fully released, we took a look at some of the key second-year players on the Patriots roster to see how they’re shaping up for when September arrives.
New England Patriots: What is a sophomore slump?
The phenomenon seems to be one that everyone knows of and speaks of frequently. However, the term seems to be more commonly geared toward the NFL quarterback position. So what makes sophomore year quarterbacks more apt to face challenges?
It all stems from what they’re asked to do from their coaching staff. For Jones, he will need to step up even more as a leader for his offense. With having no offensive coordinator named yet, Jones will have to be confident in the pocket and possibly make some calls on his own. These increasing responsibilities leave the opportunity for him to make more mistakes than last year.
Their famous OC, Josh McDaniels, shipped off to Las Vegas at the end of the 2021 season. Many fans were arguably annoyed with McDaniels’ play calling last year and were ready for a new face to run the offense. However, McDaniels played a crucial part in Jones’ NFL debut. With him gone, Jones may struggle with coaching turnover and his weaknesses might be further magnified.
While the Patriots kept Jones rather reserved in the passing game last year, they may allow the opportunity for him to sling it down field a little more in his second season. The good news is that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has high hopes for No. 10 this year.
“Just the way he handles himself, he took some real beatings and hopped up. He has developed a good relationship with the whole cadre of receivers. I’m very happy with what I’ve seen. But this is a big year, the second year.”
As for the run game, Rhamondre Stevenson was a fourth-round draft pick that proved to be a beneficial one in 2021. He has potential to become the Patriots RB1 as he enters into his sophomore season. Stevenson has proven his game is more than just running — he can play through contact and charge down the field.
With Damien Harris also a driving force for the Patriots’ rushing attack, it will be a close call on who is considered RB1 — and don’t forget about the return of James White, who will be logging a lot of carries and catching a lot of passes out of the backfield. Then again, Stevenson’s impressive rookie campaign might see him take on more of a workload because Harris is in a contract year and the Patriots would rather make a smooth transition with a cheaper player instead of paying big money for someone who’s not that much better.
All in all, there’s more worry about Jones enduring a downturn in production given the changing circumstances more greatly affecting his situation. But with the help of some new receivers and some alterations along the offensive line, perhaps he can get through the gauntlet that is New England’s 2022 schedule.
After all, he’s used to the spotlight and the challenges that come with it, as he’s proven since his Alabama days.