By now it has been well established that the New England Patriots offense has not lived up to its pre-season expectations. While the unit has had some solid moments, it is lacking consistency and has not been able to sustain the little success it has had.
Quarterback Mac Jones, however, remains ever the optimist. Appearing on WEEI’s Merloni, Fauria & Mego on Monday, he reiterated that the unit has what it takes to turn the corner even after a string of disappointing performances.
“When you watch the tape, we’re close. We’ve just got to eliminate those [negative plays] at this point,” Jones said. “There are a few plays in every game — a handful of plays — that just aren’t very good. Once we can fix those then everything goes.”
So far, fixing those negative plays has not happened. The Patriots have shown some positive development — they have not turned the ball over in three straight games after 17 giveaways over the first nine weeks of the season — but it has been undone by other issues ranging from injuries, to mental errors, to seemingly insufficient play-calling.
Coaching in particular has been a popular target for criticism from the outside as of late. Play-caller Matt Patricia, who is in his first year at the job, has not appeared to provide much of a spark for his struggling unit.
Jones, however, would not go as far as publicly question the work the coaching staff has done.
“We’re all super competitive,” he said. “Any time it doesn’t look good on film, we want to be coached hard. That’s what our coaches are going to do. It’s everybody being accountable. That’s the definition of tough coaching; it’s hard conversions.
“If something may have not gotten right with a player, ‘Hey, you did this wrong.’ As a player, it’s, ‘OK, how can I fix it?’ Our coaches have done that and we have to lock into that, and ‘Alright, what’s the problem and how can I solve it?’ ... We understand it’s us, the players. We have to trust the coaches, which we are. They put a lot of hard work into it. That’s what we have to do. It’s a players game. We want to come together and play together.”
Through highs and lows this season, Jones has continued to express similar thoughts. With the Patriots at 6-6 and very much fighting for their playoff lives during their upcoming West Coast road trip, however, one has to wonder whether those words will be justified at one point.
In recent weeks, after all, New England’s offense has seemingly remained stuck in the mud. There have been positives — Jones played his best game of the year in Week 12 against Minnesota, for example — but at one point they need to turn into habit. If not, the Patriots will remain close for the rest of the year but never actually get anywhere.