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Patriots locker room still has Mac Jones’ back, says teammate Jahlani Tavai

The veteran linebacker addressed rumors that the team has lost faith in its starting quarterback.

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Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Fairly or not, Mac Jones is the face of the New England Patriots’ struggles this year. Playing some of the worst football of his career, the third-year quarterback has had an active hand in his team’s 2-8 start.

His role as the Patriots’ starting quarterback is therefore in question, as is his status as a team leader. However, in light of a report that a “vast majority” of players might have lost faith in Jones, one teammate was emphatic in his support.

Appearing on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show on Thursday, linebacker Jahlani Tavai claimed that the Patriots locker room still has Jones’ back.

“Of course I’m a believer in Mac. I don’t know who said that, but, no, he hasn’t lost us,” the 27-year-old said.

“That’s wild. But, no, he hasn’t lost any of us on the team. So, it will be a good week for him to just get away from football. And when he gets back, I hope he knows all 52 other guys are ready to get after it with him.”

While not a team captain — unlike Mac Jones, for example — Tavai has been able to establish himself as a leader on the Patriots defense. And as such, he wasted no time defending New England’s QB after yet another disappointing game brought a new wave of criticism.

Jones did complete 15 of his first 19 pass attempts on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Patriots offense managed only two field goals in their 10-6 defeat. To make matters worse, he was benched late in the fourth quarter after an ugly interception in the red zone.

“If somebody out there in the world thinks that they can do a better job, they can try and sign up,” Tavai said on Thursday. “Being a quarterback is one of the toughest positions. So, my hat goes off to him for keeping his poise week in and week out. I don’t think they see the hard work that he puts into this, into his work. He’s working his tail off to improve himself every week and that’s just from what I’m seeing.

“I have nothing but respect for Mac. All the outside noise, I really, truly don’t really care about it. I just want him to know that we got his back.”

Tavai is effectively echoing a message that another Patriots leader had immediately after the game against the Colts. Matthew Slater also noted that ignoring the noise and continuing to work will be crucial for Jones moving forward.

“There’s a lot of negativity surrounding our team,” Slater said. “We’ve got to ignore all that because it shouldn’t impact how we operate day-to-day, and you can’t let people that don’t know half of what’s going on inside the building impact what’s going on inside the building. He’s got to stay positive. He’s got to ignore the noise, keep his head down, keep working, just like the rest of us.”

Amid questions about his job security, Jones still looked like the Patriots’ first-team quarterback during the open portion of practice on Wednesday.