Losing five out of their six games this season, the New England Patriots are in the middle of their worst start since 1995. As a consequence of the team’s disappointing performance, there are questions aplenty about both the short- and the long-term future of the franchise.
Quarterback Mac Jones is right at the heart of that discourse. Now in his third season as a pro, the former first-round draft pick is playing the worst football of his career and has shown some serious weaknesses.
Despite his lackluster play and rumblings that his support in the locker room might be waning, though, Jones still believes he is the right guy for the job.
“I’m confident,” he told reporters after the Patriots’ 21-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. “I think that comes from years of experience and earning respect from people. I think I’ve done that.
“I’m trying to win every game that I play in and I’m not doing it. I just really want to focus on how I can bring these guys with me, how we can clean up the little things. It takes all 11 and that’s important. And to be the leader of that 11 is a lot of stress, but that’s why I play this game. And I really want to win. I’m doing a lot of things to do that during the week, but for whatever reason it’s just not happening on Sunday.”
Coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign, there was hope that Jones and the Patriots offense would get back on track under new leadership. But even with Bill O’Brien being brought in as offensive coordinator, the young passer and the unit as a whole have not shown much, if any, improvement.
Six games into the season, the group ranks as one of the worst in the NFL in virtually every important statistic. Jones, meanwhile, has turned the football over nine times already — including seven times during the current three-game losing streak.
The team is still holding onto him as its starting quarterback, but the pressure is mounting.
And even though fellow team captain Matthew Slater came out to express support in him on Monday, his statements did leave some room for interpretation as far as Jones’ standing is concerned.
“I believe in the guys that we have here. I believe that our coaching staff is going to put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win. I think many of us still feel like that’s Mac, regardless of what the recent struggles have looked like for our entire team,” he said during an appearance on WEEI’s Jones & Mego.
“I think, sometimes we really lose sight of the fact that in pro sports there are a lot of ups and downs — it mirrors life. There’s going to be some highs, there’s going to be some lows. I think during the low moments, you abandon the guy, that says a lot about you. So, hopefully, we continue to back him as long as he’s our quarterback. All of us just need to focus on doing our own jobs with more efficiency, with more urgency, and let the ‘Who’s playing quarterback?’ and what they’re doing, let the coaching staff handle that. We’ll see how we approach it, but certainly I have a lot of faith in Mac.”
As for Jones himself, he thinks he has the backing of the locker room.
“I do feel like I have a lot of respect from the guys,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I want to do better as a player, and that’ll really change some things. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep working, they’ve got to keep working, and I know they will, just like we all are. I know it sucks and it’s frustrating, but at the same time, you’ve got to keep going forward and see who wants to battle.”