Despite Mac Jones and the Patriots starters being under center to open their preseason matchup against the Carolina Panthers Friday night, things did not get off to a hot start.
The Patriots offense went three-and-out on their first two possessions against Carolina, who was largely playing their backups.
“Yeah, it was a little bit of a rocky start, but that’s kind of how it goes when you haven’t played for a little bit,” Mac Jones explained postgame. “You’ve just got to continue to play, and the guys on our team, we came together, kind of operated, didn’t freak out or anything, just carried on and get our mojo back and keep everything going forward.”
Taking the field for the third time, things started to click. Jones unloaded a perfect pass down the left sideline to Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard completion. Several plays later, Ty Montgomery punched home a two-yard score.
“It was good. I think it was a good play call,” Jones said of the completion to Agholor. “He went up and made a good play, and I had plenty of time to throw it, and by that time we were moving the ball a little bit, so that was a good explosive play for a touchdown drive. That’s important for putting points on the board. It was a good catch, too.”
While it may have been a preseason matchup, the success the unit found in the third drive may be a learning point heading into the regular season.
“We understand how long a 60-minute game is, and I think that was a good learning lesson of ‘all right, let’s keep playing here,’ and when we get into the season, we’ll have a lot of chances to play those games out and continue to grow, whether it was a good first drive or not,” he said.
Jones finished his night after the lone touchdown drive, completing 4-of-8 passes for 61 yards. Throughout his three drives, it was Matt Patricia communicating the plays to Jones. In a change from last week, Patricia handled those duties throughout the entire game.
“I think Matt, he’s done a great job. He’s one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever been around in terms of football knowledge,” Jones said. “Between all the coaches we have, they’ve done a great job preparing us. He’s really starting to get a feel for it. That’s the thing, he’s just growing each week and making sure that we can stack good days together. He’s very easy to talk to on the sideline, very easy, laid-back kind of type coach but he demands a lot, and I respect that about him. Hopefully we can grow for a long time.”
During camp, Jones has stressed the importance of communication between all the players and coaching staff. The communication continues to be heading in the right direction, perhaps a catalyst for New England’s first touchdown drive.
“I think [communication] is something that we’ve made a lot of progress in: just positive, next-play mentality versus maybe dwelling a little bit,” Jones said.