Hunter Henry vs. Jonnu Smith: Expect Henry to Build on Strong Week 5 Performance

Patriots' tight end Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry have a good matchup this weekend against the Cowboys.
Patriots' tight end Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry have a good matchup this weekend against the Cowboys. / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The last two seasons for the New England Patriots can be summed up in five words: How the mighty have fallen. While the loss of one of the best players the sport has ever seen will do that to a team, the Pats need to rebound from that and start winning. 

It appears some sparks have been flying and the team is starting to wake up on the offensive side of the ball. It hasn't been enough to hold a winning record, but enough to take a closer look at this team and its roster --specifically, tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. 

The pair make for a pretty healthy duo at the position, especially Henry who put up impressive numbers in his time with the Chargers. Each of them contributed to the Pats’ Week 5 win over Houston. Henry led all Patriot receivers with 75 yards and a TD off 8 targets while Smith managed to catch both of his two targets for 27 yards. Both averaged more than 12 yards per catch against the Texans and appear to have gotten the attention of Mac Jones.

Over the last five weeks of the NFL season, Henry in particular has seen his role grow each week. Henry had five targets in Week 4 and then saw that number rise to eight against the Texans. This suggests that Henry might see even more balls thrown his way this weekend against the Cowboys than he did against the Texans. Obviously, at some point, his usage will hit a ceiling, but I don’t think we are there yet. Henry not only was targeted the most but also did the most damage. Also, who else is Jones throwing to? 

Shifting gears now, let’s take a look at Smith’s stats and see what his usage has been like these last five weeks. Unfortunately for Smith, it appears that he has been ceding a lot of targets to Henry as the weeks go on. 

When Henry saw 3 targets in Week 1, Smith had five targets. In fact, his usage remained right around there until last week. Smith was targeted five times in threes games, six in one, and just two last week. 

So, what gives? Why after starting with the baton in his hand has Smith been forced to pass it to Henry. I think a lot of it has to do with Week 3 against the Saints. In that game, Henry was targeted six times, hauling in five. While his total yards of 36 wasn't all that, he still managed to hold onto the balls thrown to him. Smith was not so lucky that day. Smith saw a season-high six targets, but secured just one catch for four yards. The next game his targets shrunk to five, and then went down to just two last against the Texans. He did manage to rush once for five yards, but it is clear who the favorite on this roster is heading into Week 6. 

I think Henry makes the most of the momentum and attention he has right now in Week 6 vs the Cowboys.

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