The New England Patriots offense has hit rock bottom in Year 3 with Mac Jones under center.
You know the numbers: no touchdowns in 34 possessions, three points over the last 10 quarters of play, outscored 22-3 by the opposing defenses over that span. No matter how you dissect it, the product on that side of the ball has been as bad as any in the NFL and a major reason for New England’s 1-4 start.
Most of the blame falls on Jones, who in his third season as the Patriots’ quarterback and playing the worst football of his career — putting his long-term future with the organization in serious doubt. For his former offensive coordinator and position coach, who will be on the opposing sideline this week, the 25-year-old is still a good player, though.
“He’s a very talented player. Accuracy has always been a huge part of his game. Touch, anticipation, he has all those things at a very high level,” Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels told reporters ahead of his team’s Week 6 clash with the Patriots.
“They’ve battled the same bug we’ve battled, honestly, with the turnovers and losing opportunities through change of possession. So, I’m sure that’s something that they’re going to work hard at limiting and getting rid of, and it’s the same thing we’re talking about.”
Turnovers have indeed sunk any chances the Patriots might have had the last two weeks in particular. All of them, of course, came courtesy of Jones.
The third-year passer threw four interceptions in blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, of which two were returned for touchdowns. In addition, he was credited with two lost fumbles — one resulting in another touchdown. The Patriots have put an emphasis on ball security, but at the moment rank fourth in the league with 10 giveaways.
One of the teams even below them on the list? The Raiders, who have turned the ball over 11 times.
The ability to clean up this part of the game will be crucial for the Patriots and Jones in particular. And for McDaniels, this is the key to getting both the young passer and the offense as a whole back on track.
“This is a guy who’s a very capable passer in every situation,” he said about Jones. “He’s played big and big games. He’s battled against really good teams, made some high-level throws and hung in there. Very tough in the pocket, gets hit and gets right up and goes to the next play.
“So, a lot of respect for him, a lot of admiration for what he did when I was there. It’ll be a big challenge for us this week.”