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 when it comes to the Patriots’ capacity 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 a very powerful metric of all: wins.
“They gave me the ball twice to win the sport, and I couldn’t do it,” Jones stated after New England’s season-opening loss to the Eagles. “I’ve simply received 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 received to study from it. You solely get so many alternatives within the NFL to try this, and I felt like I positively let the staff down.”
Jones’ crucial feedback and inward blame aren’t stunning. They often 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 below middle ought to be far down the checklist 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 harm in a assorted offensive scheme that dials up loads of RPOs (run-pass choices), screens and different quick throws.
Off of simply the baseline numbers thus far in 2023, Jones has appeared much better than his 2022 self — mired in mediocrity amid Matt Patricia’s simplified offense.
Jones is at the moment sixth within the NFL in passing yards (547), tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (4) and at the moment 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 % completion proportion.
Had Patriots followers been instructed of these lofty passing tasks two weeks in the past, elation would have spilled out within the streets from Bar Harbor to Barnstable.
However little has gone in accordance with plan thus far for Jones and the Patriots, at the very least in terms of the top 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 kind of held up his finish of the discount in O’Brien’s system.
The identical can’t be stated for a number of the different weak hyperlinks unfold throughout what was an impotent offensive grouping via 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 via two weeks. However such is the hand that has been dealt to the Patriots as a result of a woeful offensive line that has caught the staff in impartial.
With groups having their approach 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 sport 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 will likely 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 below duress this season.
As famous by Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar, Jones is at the moment PFF’s fifth-highest-graded passer whereas below stress via the primary two weeks of the 2023 season.
Whereas below stress in 2022, Jones accomplished 42.4 % of his passes, tossing three touchdowns, eight interceptions, and posting a 35.1 passer ranking.
In 2023? Whereas below stress, Jones is finishing 53.6 % of his passes with one landing, zero picks and a 79.6 passer ranking.
Not dangerous 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.
To this point this season, New England’s offense has sliced and diced groups by means of paper cuts, with a scarcity of separation from the Patriots’ receivers hindering any hope of big-play capabilities.
New England’s longest play on offense Sunday towards the Dolphins went from a whopping 18 yards … off a scramble from Jones.
In accordance with NextGen Stats, JuJu Smith-Schuster — New England’s high 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.
By way of 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 sport on the sideline after a expensive fumble.
To this point, Jones has exceeded expectations given the quantity of stress he’s confronted and the dearth of playmakers round him.
But it surely’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 might not be an All-Professional expertise, neither is he the kind of quarterback who can gloss over a staff’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 enjoying successful soccer with the precise supporting forged round him.
It stays to be seen when the remainder of that group plans on exhibiting up.
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