July 16, 2024

Patriots

Whether or not or not it’s a porous O-line, stagnant run recreation, or lack of big-play choices, Mac Jones has not been the principle concern.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass while pressured by Miami Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb (2) during the first half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
Mac Jones is presently on tempo for 34 touchdowns this season. AP Photograph/Steven Senne

COMMENTARY

For 2 straight weeks, a sullen Mac Jones has strode to the rostrum at Gillette Stadium to face the music after a irritating defeat.

Invoice O’Brien’s return as New England’s offensive coordinator has yielded constructive returns by way of the Patriots’ capability to maneuver the ball downfield and orchestrate fourth-quarter surges amid early deficits.

However these silver linings have dissipated given the dearth of outcomes on an important metric of all: wins.

“They gave me the ball twice to win the sport, and I couldn’t do it,” Jones mentioned after New England’s season-opening loss to the Eagles. “I’ve simply bought to return and watch and see what I can do higher, however as a quarterback, that hurts, proper?

“You get an opportunity to win the sport twice and may’t do it. You’ve simply bought to study from it. You solely get so many alternatives within the NFL to do this, and I felt like I positively let the group down.”

Jones’ essential feedback and inward blame are usually not stunning. They normally include the territory for any quarterback handed the keys to an offense.

However because the Patriots sit rudderless at 0-2 to start out a brand new season, Jones and his play beneath heart needs to be far down the record of accountable events for New England’s worst begin since 2001 — particularly given the opposite evident deficiencies discovered elsewhere on this offensive unit.

The 25-year-old Jones doesn’t have the arm of a Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, nor can he scramble and eat up yardage on the bottom like Jalen Hurts.

However a lot as he did throughout his collegiate days at Alabama, the third-year QB can nonetheless do loads of injury in a diverse offensive scheme that dials up loads of RPOs (run-pass choices), screens and different brief throws.

Off of simply the baseline numbers to this point in 2023, Jones has appeared much better than his 2022 self — mired in mediocrity amid Matt Patricia’s simplified offense.

Jones is presently sixth within the NFL in passing yards (547), tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (4) and presently paces all sign callers in each completions (66) and makes an attempt (96).

At his present tempo, Jones is projected to complete with 4,650 passing yards, 34 touchdowns and a 68.8 p.c completion share.

Had Patriots followers been instructed of these lofty passing initiatives two weeks in the past, elation would have spilled out within the streets from Bar Harbor to Barnstable.

However little has gone in response to plan to this point for Jones and the Patriots, at the very least with regards to the tip outcomes.

Jones has been removed from flawless this 12 months, such because the momentum-sapping decide thrown to Miami’s Xavien Howard on Sunday. Nonetheless, Jones has roughly held up his finish of the cut price in O’Brien’s system.

The identical can’t be mentioned for among the different weak hyperlinks unfold throughout what was an impotent offensive grouping by means of two weeks.

Jones could be a poised passer who can execute in the precise scheme. However he shouldn’t be a QB that’s main the league in cross makes an attempt by means of two weeks. However such is the hand that has been dealt to the Patriots as a consequence of a woeful offensive line that has caught the group in impartial.

With groups having their method on the line of scrimmage, New England’s 1-2 punch of Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott has but to place a dent in opposing defenses. The Patriots rank twenty third within the NFL this season in yards per rush (3.5).

Because the Patriots’ run recreation sputtered, the onus has fallen on Jones and New England’s passing offense to be the lone avenue towards pushing the ball down the sphere, even with a porous O-line in entrance of Jones.

It’s a recipe for catastrophe, particularly for a younger quarterback nonetheless looking for his footing in a scheme cooked up by what can be his third offensive coordinator in three seasons.

However give credit score the place it’s due. Even with the restricted period of time afforded to Jones within the pocket, he’s excelled whereas beneath duress this season.

As famous by Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar, Jones is presently PFF’s fifth-highest-graded passer whereas beneath stress by means of the primary two weeks of the 2023 season.

Whereas beneath stress in 2022, Jones accomplished 42.4 p.c of his passes, tossing three touchdowns, eight interceptions, and posting a 35.1 passer ranking.

In 2023? Whereas beneath stress, Jones is finishing 53.6 p.c of his passes with one landing, zero picks and a 79.6 passer ranking.

Not unhealthy for a quarterback who additionally hasn’t been afforded all that a lot time to throw — and when he does, there may be little area between his offensive weapons and the protection.

Up to now this season, New England’s offense has sliced and diced groups by the use of paper cuts, with an absence of separation from the Patriots’ receivers hindering any hope of big-play capabilities.

New England’s longest play on offense Sunday in opposition to the Dolphins went from a whopping 18 yards … off a scramble from Jones.

In response to NextGen Stats, JuJu Smith-Schuster — New England’s prime free-agent pickup and famous yards-after-catch producer all through his profession — was tied for the bottom common separation in Week 2 at simply 1.5 yards. 

Via two video games, New England’s most dynamic participant on offense is perhaps a 2023 sixth-round decide in Demario Douglas — who spent most of Sunday’s recreation on the sideline after a pricey fumble.

Up to now, Jones has exceeded expectations given the quantity of stress he’s confronted and the dearth of playmakers round him.

Nevertheless it’s nonetheless an unsustainable technique to anticipate him to maintain bailing out an offense missing in high-end expertise, particularly given the punishment and inevitable ill-timed throws that await if New England’s O-line continues to be carved up.

Jones will not be an All-Professional expertise, neither is he the kind of quarterback who can gloss over a group’s evident flaws by orchestrating an aerial assault on his personal.

He’s what he’s.

A strong, poised QB who’s greater than able to taking part in profitable soccer with the precise supporting solid round him.

It stays to be seen when the remainder of that group plans on displaying up.