With the preseason now in the rearview mirror, the New England Patriots offense certainly will look to turn the page. Its offseason offensive struggles were highlighted in the preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, as Mac Jones led the offense on four drives which resulted in two three-and-outs, a field goal, and an ugly interception.
While it may just be the preseason, Jones knows the early-season battles could come back to help them later in the season.
“You got to learn from your mistakes,” Jones said on Monday while appearing on WEEI’s Merloni, Fauria & Mego. “Just adjust to go back and say ‘Hey, remember in the preseason when this happened, how are we going to fix it.’ And that happened last year plenty of times. A certain look, remember this in the preseason, this look, this front, this is what we’re going to do like we did then. There is a lot of merit to things that can pop back up.”
With the struggles have come frustration. Jones’ frustration was again visible last Friday night, as he was seen spiking his blue tablet behind the bench.
“I care a lot about football,” Jones said. “A lot of times I’m frustrated with myself because I’m a perfectionist and I want things to be perfect. … It’s more individual than anything. If I’m going to get frustrated at other people, it’s only to bring the best out in them and I hope they would hold me to the same standard.”
The early challenges offensively have stemmed from the changes the offensive scheme and verbiage has undergone this offseason. That “streamlined” process was done in hopes of ultimately playing faster as an offense by spreading the ball around to New England’s playmakers.
“Football is football but there are definitely some different changes with mentality and philosophy, and I think they are good things,” Jones explained on WEEI. “We’re trying to get the ball to our playmakers and let them make explosive plays. I like that philosophy. That's what we want to do.
“We have really good players. I think it’s more about understanding what we have this year with the skill guys, and the running backs, and tight ends and being able to spread the ball out, and we’ll get a chance to do that in the season.”
While the scheme has been altered, the coaching staff around Jones has undergone major changes as well. With Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, and head coach Bill Belichick himself have taken bigger roles within the offense — barring the question as if there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
“It doesn’t matter to me if it’s one people or five people. I don’t mind either or, for me it’s about what can I do better,” Jones said. “We have people with plenty of knowledge and great coaches [that have seen everything]. Really, it’s just making sure we all see through the same lens and we’re doing a good job of that.”
Change like such is always difficult for a young quarterback, but it’s nothing new for Jones. Throughout his collegiate career at Alabama, Jones had three different offensive coordinators who all added their own flavor to the Crimson Tide offense.
“Change is hard, no matter what you do,” he said. “I learned that at Alabama, you get a new offensive coordinator and you want it to be as smooth as it can be but sometimes there’s a little bit of bumps in the beginning, but you work through them. ... We know exactly what we have in our room and I trust the guys in our room and I trust the coaches.”
One thing that hasn't changed however, is Jones’ ability to collaborate with his head coach.
“He’s been very hands-on,” Jones said of Belichick. “He has that knowledge of, ‘Hey, this is what they're looking at when you do this, or your eyes are here they can see a different thing if you look them off’ — there’s just so many different examples of just him as a defensive coach knowing what puts stress on a defense. And then obviously he has a great understanding of the fundamentals of a quarterback.”
Jones and the Patriots offense now have just under two weeks until their regular season opener against Miami, where they will look to start the season on the right foot.
“I think we’re still working, and that’s all you can do,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of good stuff on tape but it’s just putting more consistency on it. That just comes with the players and me playing better.”