O’Brien also dismissed the idea that Jones taking a week off would benefit his mind, saying “there’s no time for mental breaks.”
Before speaking to reporters on Tuesday, O’Brien said the Patriots’ offensive coaches had a constructive meeting focused on ways players can help the staff do their jobs better. The team held a rare Tuesday practice following a player’s day off on Monday, which is not normal scheduling and means the team sits at 1-4 following two tough losses.
“We had a good fundamentals meeting here about half an hour ago. We’re ready to go to practice, taking things one step at a time and trying to dig ourselves out of it,” O’Brien explained.
With backup Bailey Chappe as a possible option if Jones struggles again, O’Brien was also asked about practice-squad rookie Malik Cunningham getting more opportunities, perhaps in a Daysum Hill-type package. In addition to mirroring Hill in practice last week, O’Brien said Cunningham was working primarily at wide receiver, something he’s had over the summer.
“Malik is working really hard. He’s doing well on the practice squad, playing a lot of receiver. He did some quarterback mimicking last week with (New Orleans Saints QB/tight end) Daysum Hill,” the Patriots offensive coordinator said. “But he’s doing a good job, and he’s continuing to improve. He’s probably one of the most improved practice squad players we’ve had. (He’s) a good guy to work with.”
New England will get another reinforcement as second-year WR Tyquan Thornton returns to practice on Tuesday. Thornton isn’t the savior, but his 4.28 speed gives them a vertical element and someone who can beat man coverage with routes down the field.
New England will certainly make subtle changes offensively, but for those expecting wholesale knee-jerk style changes, the Patriots, who have lost their last two games by a combined score of 72-3, don’t seem to be doing much. This is the only path for this team to win again.