New England managed to add injury to insult this week. Losing the game was one thing. Potentially losing Mac Jones for a number of weeks is the hit that keeps punching. I heard a suggestion somewhere that Mac stepping away for a few games might not be a bad thing. Might give him a different perspective from the sideline. Not sure about that but let’s hope he respects backup QB Brian (er, I mean “Axel”) Hoyer enough afterward to still listen to him for guidance when he returns.
That said, don’t buy into all the doom-and-gloomers out there, calling themselves “realists,” who have already declared the season to be over. I’m not even calling them wrong. They’re just not necessarily right. When the Patriots lost Tom Brady 8 minutes into the 2008 season, things ended up being okay. Not “making the playoffs” level of okay, but every game was entertaining. There was anticipation and fresh excitement watching each week to see how the team would do.
31 fanbases plus the networks and so-called news outlets hated on the Patriots all that post-2007 offseason, pushing negative media narratives: Spygate, losing the perfect season, running up the score, the good vs. evil nonsense, etc... Matt Cassel stepping in immediately took the air out of all those storylines. Each week became its own mountain to climb. It was fun to watch. No pressure.
I’m approaching this season the same way. Mac Jones will be a good quarterback. Right now there is Jones, the team, the coaching staff all experiencing growing pains — evident by the inconsistent performances we’re seeing on the field. It takes a little time for everything to gel. So while I’m rooting for wins, I’m also hoping to see improvement somewhere each week. Patriots visit Green Bay on Sunday. Trap game for the Packers? Could happen. Let’s just watch and see how it plays out.
Around the AFC East:
Miami Dolphins (3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
New York Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
New England Patriots (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)
Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1) vs. Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Houston Texans (0-2-1)
15th - Mark Lane (TouchdownWire): Starting 1-2 isn’t unfamiliar territory for Bill Belichick. Having your starting quarterback miss time is. The Patriots are trying to figure things out, and it is dinging them in the win column. [-5]
18th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago): Looks like it’s Brian Hoyer time for the foreseeable future in New England. Woof. [-4]
18th - Trevor Land (FlurrySports). [-3]
19th - Ryan Gaydos (Fox News). [-5]
20th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): Before the season, I thought it would be a miracle if this team made the playoffs. Now I am convinced of it. They aren’t good. [-6]
20th - Conor Orr (SI): While it’s unfair for us to keep expecting Bill Belichick to betroth us with brilliance, one has to wonder if New England can put on a Mike McCarthian performance with its own backup QB, when they couldn’t seem to develop much for their starter, Mac Jones, before Jones got hurt. [-4]
20th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Let Bailey zap. [-6]
21st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The next few weeks will either be Mac Jones playing at presumably far less than 100 percent on a high ankle sprain or Brian Hoyer taking over. I’m not sure how an offense that already had its issues (though, it was better Sunday) gets much better than that scenario. These next few weeks are critical for the Patriots. They need to grind out some wins to stay relevant. [-2]
21st - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [-6]
22nd - Nate Davis (USA Today): They’re 18-18 since Brady chose to leave New England, but .500 could be awfully tough to maintain if QB Mac Jones (ankle) is out for an extended period. [-9]
23rd - Austin Gayle (The Ringer): “Long-shot playoff hopefuls” category. The team without a true offensive coordinator doesn’t have a good offense, and that same team will likely be without its starting quarterback for some time. Bill Belichick said Monday he had “nothing definitive” on Mac Jones’s injury, but what is definite is that New England’s playoff hopes are all but dead if Jones’s injury is as severe as it seemed when Jones was carried off the field by his teammates on Sunday. [-3]
23rd - NFL Nation (ESPN): Mac Jones is hurting. Everything took a back seat to his physical condition when he hopped off the field on his final offensive play in the loss Sunday to the Ravens, going directly to the locker room for evaluation. Jones is dealing with what doctors have diagnosed as a severe high ankle sprain that would cause many to have surgery and miss multiple weeks, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Jones is also hurting on the stat sheet. He threw three interceptions Sunday, upping his total for the season to five. He didn’t throw his fifth interception until the fifth game of the season last year. [-7]
23rd - Karen Guregian (Boston Herald): They’re on to Brian Hoyer. With Mac Jones suffering a high ankle sprain Sunday, it’s now up to Hoyer to try and make sense of the offense, not to mention the coaches running it. [-7]
23rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Credit Mac Jones and the offense for seeing the rushing attack rise again with a revolving door receiving corps. Unfortunately, just when then happened, big turnovers and Jones’ ankle injury happened. Bill Belichick also isn’t used to a defense with this many glaring holes. [-5]
23rd - Staff (The Score): Questions regarding the offensive play-calling were raised before the season. Many are now criticizing Mac Jones’ decision-making after a three-interception performance. Adding to the misery, the starting passer suffered a high-ankle sprain during last week’s loss. [-3]
24th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): The offense showed legitimate signs of life on Sunday against the Ravens, but the Patriots won’t survive if they can’t protect the football. Bill Belichick’s team turned the ball over four times, with three of those coming on Mac Jones interceptions, in a 37-26 loss to Baltimore. A frustrating afternoon came to an ugly conclusion: Jones had to be helped to the locker room after being injured on his final play of the game. On Monday, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that Jones suffered a “pretty severe” high ankle sprain that leaves his availability unclear moving forward. Swapping out Jones for Brian Hoyer for any length of time is just about the last thing this team needs. [-6]
24th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): It’s bad enough that the New England Patriots lost at home to the Baltimore Ravens, dropping them two games back of the division-leading Dolphins. But losing a single game may turn out to be the least of New England’s problems.
On his last pass attempt of the game, quarterback Mac Jones suffered a “pretty severe” high ankle sprain—an injury likely to sideline him several weeks. As is usually the case with the Pats, though, Jones wasn’t particularly forthcoming with further details about the injury. “Definitely any updates, you can talk to Coach about,” Jones said, per NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. Jones had a shaky effort against the Ravens. He threw for 321 yards but also tossed three interceptions and zero touchdowns. Still, losing him for any length of time may prove too much to overcome for a Pats team that doesn’t have much margin for error. [-7]
25th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): Mac Jones kept the Pats in it against Baltimore but his injury leaves the team even further behind the sticks. Now with Brian Hoyer under center for an unknown amount of time, there might really be nobody on the offense that is threatening enough to game plan for. [-6]
26th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): The Mac Jones injury is going to make a challenging New England Patriots’ season even worse. Broadcasters are easily predicting whether New England is going to run or pass it, which says even more about what opponents must be picking up on. Things will get ugly in Week 4 against Green Bay. [-4]
Tier 6 - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): “The one-win teams who probably aren’t contenders” category.
Mac Jones looked a lot like Jameis Winston against Baltimore. By that, I mean he looked like the pre-LASIK Winston. Jones has never been the most athletic player, but he must have taken inspiration from Lamar Jackson this week because he did a great job avoiding pressure and picking up yards with his feet.
But he’s also making head-scratching decisions as a passer. There was always a chance that this offense would struggle without Josh McDaniels. But replacing him with Matt Patricia is a little more than a step in the wrong direction. [-2 tiers]
AVG RANK: 21.5 [-5.2]