Have the Patriots Failed Mac Jones?
Struggles of the Rookie Quarterback Raise Questions in New England
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots’ starting quarterback decision will ultimately rest in the hands of head coach Bill Belichick, according to offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. This comes after rookie quarterback Mac Jones was benched in the team’s Week 10 loss.
O’Brien emphasized that Jones would still be taking first-unit reps in practice, indicating that his status as the team’s starter is not yet determined. “For me, I basically get everybody ready to play,” O’Brien stated. “At the end of the day, Bill [Belichick] will make that decision at some point and we’ll go from there.”
During the team’s bye week, the Patriots had one practice where Jones, backup Bailey Zappe, and third option Will Grier all rotated in at the quarterback position. O’Brien hinted that the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants would be chosen based on their performance in practice this week.
“One of the reasons I really enjoy coaching here is you have to earn it on the practice field,” O’Brien explained. “You have to strive for perfection on the practice field and then hopefully that leads to good execution in the games. Right now, we haven’t had consistent enough execution in the games. So, we’ll see what happens down the road here. We have to have good practices, and then we can all determine, at every position, who should play the most.”
Jones’ hold on the starting job has come into question after being pulled from the team’s 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10. With 4:25 remaining in the game, Jones threw an interception when tight end Mike Gesicki was open in the end zone. Belichick decided to make a change and inserted Zappe into the game for the final drive, which ended in an interception.
The struggles of the Patriots extend beyond the quarterback position. The team currently holds a 2-8 record and sits in last place in the AFC. They rank 31st in the NFL in points scored, averaging just 14.1 per game. The offensive line has also been a concern, with seven different starting configurations used in 10 games. Additionally, the team’s pass-catchers have failed to consistently threaten opposing defenses.
When asked about Jones’ recent struggles, O’Brien remained optimistic. “Everything is fixable. I think at times, Mac has played really well,” O’Brien said. “I also think it’s really important to point out there are 10 other guys on the field. Everybody has to play better. Then there’s coaches on the sideline; we all have to coach better. That’s the truth. I don’t believe in yips or anything like that. Mac has played well. Mac will play well again.”
So far this season, Jones has been pulled from three games and has a stat line of 212 completions on 324 attempts for 2,031 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has also been sacked 21 times.
In a recent game played in Frankfurt, Germany, O’Brien was seen passionately coaching Jones on the sideline after a near interception on a third-down pass. O’Brien explained that his coaching style is intense and demanding, aiming to get his point across. “Sometimes that rubs certain players the wrong way. Sometimes players want that. I don’t want to speak for Mac, but I think Mac wants to be coached and wants to be told, ‘Look, this can be better,'” O’Brien stated.
As the Patriots continue to evaluate their quarterback situation, the focus remains on improving execution and finding consistency on both sides of the ball. Only time will tell if Mac Jones can regain his starting role and lead the team to success.