By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — When the Patriots dished out some serious cash to Jonnu Smith over the offseason, some lofty expectations for the tight end followed. His signing, paired with that of fellow tight end Hunter Henry, was supposed to give New England a terrifying two-man attack at the position.READ MORE: The Patriots, Now 0-4 At Home, Have Fully Lost Their Foxboro Mystique
But three weeks into the season, Smith and Hunter have done very little to warrant their mega deals over the summer. They each have just 10 catches through their first three games in New England, and Smith is catching heat for a numbers of drops that he had during New England’s 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Foxboro.
Some wisenheimers would say at least Smith is catching something, after he hauled in just one of the six passes that Mac Jones sent his way on Sunday. His worst drop of the afternoon came on Jones’ first toss of the second half, when Smith bobbled a throw that hit him right in the hands and then fell into the arms of Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins for an easy pick-six. It was as ugly as it gets for someone the Patriots are relying on to make big plays on offense.
To Smith’s credit, he took full blame for that game-changing miscue during his Monday Zoom call. The veteran tight end said that his rookie quarterback did everything right on the play, and that he needs to be — and will be — much better going forward.
“I’ve just got to make that play that I know I can make and that I will make when the opportunity presents itself,” said Smith, who received a four-year, $50 million deal over the offseason. “Mac, he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s on not on his end, I put that on myself.READ MORE: Ups & Downs From Patriots OT Loss To Cowboys: Bad Day For Pair Of New England's Big Free Agent Signings
“Every ball he threw to me yesterday was catchable,” Smith added. “Catches that I’ve made, that I know I can make and unfortunately just couldn’t come up with them. But we’re gonna keep working. We’re gonna keep doing our job and doing what we’re supposed to do and keep working whether that may getting extra work after practice and trying to hit some of those throws. Whatever it may take.”
Smith said that he is comfortable in the New England offense, though his 10 catches for 74 yards and no touchdowns over the first three games says otherwise. He knows that he is vastly underperforming for a player who received a big payday over the summer, and he’s eager to put Sunday’s poor performance behind him and get on track.
“You know, I got to have a certain level of honesty with myself in the mirror, man,” said Smith. “But the great thing about it is I have another opportunity. I didn’t put my best product and myself out there [Sunday]. I know that. The whole world knows that.
“But, you know, I know the player I am,” he continued. “I’m confident in the player I am, and I’m just looking forward to moving forward.”MORE NEWS: Missed Facemask Call In Overtime Has Patriots Fans In Uproar
With the New England offense as a whole struggling to put points on the board, the Patriots could certainly use a breakout performance from Smith sometime in the near future. He and the rest of the offense will have their work cut out for them Sunday night, when the Patriots try to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense at Gillette Stadium.