FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the key things you can point to when trying to figure what types of switches the Patriots have flipped over the course of this four-game winning streak is their execution in the red zone. Through the first six weeks, New England converted on just 44.4% of their red-zone trips. Over this four-game streak, however, they've gone 14 of 19 from inside the 20, giving them a 73.6% red-zone conversion rate. While there are many factors in that improvement, a main one has been the blossoming relationship between Mac Jones and Hunter Henry.
Their rapport has improved dramatically as the season has gone on, including a two-touchdown performance in the midst of New England's 45-7 thumping of the Cleveland Browns in Week 10. Those scores gave Henry seven on the season, four of which have come within this streak.
"Hunter does a great job getting open," said Jones following the win. "He has a really good feel for red-zone offense and running routes and blocking and finding his little spot in the zone or in the end zone."
And while this connection between Jones and Henry may have taken a little time to fully translate to the field, it was clear from those who saw the tight end behind the scenes that his ability to get open in the red area was a special trait.
"I remember when I first saw Hunter running routes," said Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers. "I think we were in California, and we were just playing around, and I kind of knew he would be somebody special. Just his ability to get open. I need to take some pointers from him, you know, the way he does it so consistently. He's got real soft hands, real crispy routes, so I feel like this is just the beginning, honestly. I think he's got a long way to go when it comes to just scoring in the red zone and making plays for our team."
The red zone will naturally be where Henry is most valuable to the Patriots' offense, but that success has also built up confidence for Jones to look to him in the middle of the field as well. One of the rookie's best throws of the afternoon in Week 10 came on a second-and-5 throw in the third quarter where he hit Henry for a 19-yard completion, placing the ball right in front of him while beating tight coverage by Cleveland.
That was pretty. @MacJones_10 ➡️ @Hunter_Henry84— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 14, 2021
📺: @NFLonCBS / Patriots app pic.twitter.com/Fvc0yZrscp
"There is a lot of work that is put in throughout the week," Henry said of his evolving on-field chemistry with Jones. "I think that's continuing to grow as you see as the season has progressed. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Everybody else sees the stuff that goes on when we're playing but there is a lot of work that builds up to that. All that stuff is kind of paying off week by week and we just have to continue to improve and get better every day and take advantage of those opportunities."
Henry's career-high for touchdowns is eight, which came back during his rookie season in 2016 with the Chargers. If he continues to play at this level, he should shatter that mark as he wraps up his first season in New England.
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