While the Vikings' offense is loaded with speed and skill, the Patriots' offense lacks athleticism and looks lethargic.
During their current three-game win streak, the Patriots have scored as many touchdowns on defense and special teams (two) as they have on offense.
Mac Jones lacks play-makers that can get the ball into the end zone. In fact, New England is 31st in red-zone percentage, only coming away with touchdowns on 12 of 28 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line (42.9 percent).
So what happened with rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton? He was supposed to bring Tyreek Hill type speed to the Patriots' offense, right?
Thornton, selected in the second round last April, began the season on injured reserve with a broken clavicle but has since returned to log significant playing time. After making his NFL debut in Week 5, Thornton has been on the field for 71 percent of the offense’s snaps.
The first touchdown of the Baylor product’s NFL career came in Week 6 with against the Cleveland Browns with him lined up in the slot opposite cornerback Greedy Williams. Thornton stuttered left, released right, and slanted across the middle catching a pass from Bailey Zappe along the back end line.
Later in that same game, Thornton scored again, showing off his blazing 4.28 speed on a 19-yard jet sweep. At the time everyone thought it was his coming out party. However, outside of that two-touchdown game, Thornton’s production hasn’t popped.
Still, Jones recognizes the potential in his rookie wideout. He was asked to describe his on-field chemistry and timelines were messed up with injuries.
"It's great to have him out there," Jones said. "I watched his college film and there's a lot of things on there that I really liked and they're obviously translating to the NFL."
Over the Patriots’ last three games, he’s caught just three passes on 11 targets for 37 yards.
Granted it’s difficult to evaluate his performance because of the team’s overall offensive struggles, but the coaching staff should commit themselves to putting the ball in Thornton's hands.
There are plenty of ways to get Thornton the ball, whether using him out of the slot in more of a Julian Edelman role, on downfield vertical routes, or on designed runs to allow Thornton to pick up big chunks of yards with his legs.
"Everyone obviously knows he's fast but he does other things really well too," Jones said. "He definitely plays really well and knows where to line up. He's done a great job and I'm excited to play with him and we're going to continue to grow together."
Thus far, New England's production from its wide receivers has been average, at best. Jakobi Meyers remains the most consistent receiver with his team-leading 44 catches for 509 yards and three touchdowns. In nine games each, Nelson Agholor and DeVante Parker have 17 catches each, clearly not living up to expectations. Kendrick Bourne has been used sparingly, as he's been in and out of Bill Belichick's doghouse.
There is still plenty of time for Thornton to help rejuvenate the inept passing attack and lay the groundwork for the future.
You can follow Kevin Tame Jr. on Twitter @Kevin_Tame
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