The Patriots will look to get back on the winning track this weekend as they return home coming off a disappointing loss to the 3-5 Washington Commanders. Washington sent two of their best players to other teams just before this week’s trade deadline, but they still feature a dangerous group of receivers and a quarterback in Sam Howell that is unafraid to let it rip. How can the Patriots knock off the Commanders and get their third win of the season? The writers of Patriots Unfiltered weigh in with their thoughts on the key players, matchups and factors.
Kendrick Bourne is out and DeVante Parker is looking doubtful, pick one receiver as a focal point to step up in their absence.
- Juju Smith-Schuster
- Kayshon Boutte
- Tyquan Thornton
It has to be, and let’s hope, it’s C. The Patriots spent a 2nd round pick on Thornton and we’re still waiting for the return. Injuries may have stunted his growth but it’s time. -Fred Kirsch
It’s time to see what Thornton can do. Line him up, let him play through some mistakes and figure out if he can be a piece of the puzzle moving forward. -Paul Perillo
JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s the highest-paid receiver on the team, so I believe it’s his responsibility to step up over the rookie and second-year receiver. Last week’s touchdown catch was hopefully a step in the right direction for him. -Alexandra Francisco
With Kendrick Bourne out for the season and DeVante Parker doubtful to play against the Commanders one receiver that needs to step up in their absence is Tyquan Thornton. Being a second-round draft pick he has not lived up to expectations since he arrived in New England. After being a healthy scratch last week against the Dolphins, he needs to return to the lineup this weekend against Washington and showcase some of that combine speed that everyone raved about before he was drafted on the field in his route-running. – Tamara Brown
JuJu Smith-Schuster. As much as I want to say Boutte and Thornton, the reality is that this coaching staff will probably rely on Smith-Schuster, who took over Bourne’s role after he left the game last week. I’d love to see Boutte get those reps as a “Z” receiver in Bourne’s spot. Boutte has the skills to separate on in-breakers and generate yards after the catch. But my guess is the coaching staff will view Smith-Schuster as more game-ready, and he’ll get the snaps as the flanker, with Douglas remaining in the slot and Jalen Reagor/Tyquan Thornton at X. – Evan Lazar
I’m on Juju too. He unquestionably had a slow start and while I’m sure plenty of fans just want to see the kids play now, Juju must get a chance to show what he can do in extended action. Put it this way, if it’s not Juju out there and the team has in fact already surpassed him and moved on to the kids it’s an even worse sign of how far the situation has deteriorated after the Patriots signed him to a three-year contract this offseason trap. I’m not necessarily holding out hope he’s suddenly going to flash and put up a 100-yard game, but I want to know if he can step up when the offense really needs him to and at least give them some kind of production. -Mike Dussault