After a busy free agency period and a draft that would produce immediate returns, it shouldn't have been surprising that the new-look Patriots offense took some time to gel. With a rookie quarterback and two new tight ends and two new receivers entering the mix, the process began last spring and continued into the early parts of the season, but in recent weeks there have been signs things are starting to come together, most obviously the current five-game win streak.
Hunter Henry is one of the biggest examples of how things are starting to come together, with a recent surge in his play. After grabbing just five catches and no touchdowns in his first two games as a Patriot, Henry has started to make a major impact, with seven touchdowns and a number of big catches in critical spots. Suddenly Henry has emerged as a true red-zone threat, something the Patriots have lacked in recent seasons, but he's just one part of the returns that are starting to show up.
"We're continuing to go to work every day," said Henry. "There's a lot of new guys kind of thrown together, new guys coming in that have been experienced in this league and then new guys that haven't had much experience. I think that sometimes can take a while to mesh and come together and we haven't been in the system either. The last month or so I feel like it's all been clicking in a good way but we got to continue to go do that."
Making it easier to continue on this path is a collection of teammates uninterested in statistical glory, and instead only focused on putting wins on the board.
"There's just something about this team that there's such an unselfish attitude," said Henry. "No one really cares who makes the plays as long as we win. I think everybody out there is just trying to find a way to execute, to make a play so that we can score and win ballgames. I think that's one of the biggest things that I enjoy with a lot of these guys, the ball gets spread around so much and so many guys are making plays, it also makes it hard on defenses too."
Despite a feel-good five-game win streak, at 7-4 the 2021 Patriots haven't won anything yet. Though their hard work is starting to pay off and the offense is starting to click, it won't matter unless they continue to build on the recent results against their most formidable opponents, including an upcoming four-game AFC slate that will tell New England exactly how they stack up.
"It took some time, we didn't start like we wanted to," said Henry. "We just kept chipping away and that's just what we have to continue to do down the stretch."
Practice & Injury Report
Only practice squadder Tashaun Bower was missing from a brisk Patriots practice on Wednesday as the team prepared for one more day of Titans preparation before having Thanksgiving day off. Overall the Patriots have good health as they enter the final six-game stretch of the season which will also include their bye week, as an additional chance to let some bumps and bruises heal up.
The Patriots Injury Report featured 11 different players that were limited, including Christian Barmore (knee), Trent Brown (calf) and Dont'a Hightower (ankle).