Patriots: Mac Jones commenting on lack of downfield throws is encouraging

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have to like what they’ve seen from rookie quarterback Mac Jones through two starts, as he’s avoided turnovers and completed almost 74% of his passes in an impressive start.

However, it’s clear that New England isn’t asking him to be Tom Brady and throw the ball downfield 40 times a game.

Jones’ 5.7 average depth of target ranks as the fourth-lowest among starting quarterbacks this season, and it’s given Patriots haters plenty of ammunition to say that his production is merely the result of checking down to wide-open backs and receivers underneath.

Jones and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have refuted that notion, with the latter even claiming that he “trusts [Jones] completely.”

As for Jones, he said that he’s seen plenty of opportunities for big chunk plays, but he hasn’t been cashing them in.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Jones claimed that he had chances to go deep in their loss against the Dolphins and win against the Jets, but he hasn’t been as proactive in taking those shots as he needs to be.

“There’s definitely times when I watch the film and I wish I threw the ball down the field more,” Jones said. “But at the same time, I’m just going to continue to do what I do and take what they give me.”

Sounds like he’s willing to go deep and he’s not gun-shy. That’s a positive.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones wants to be more aggressive.

Jones’ time at Alabama showed that he’s capable of being very accurate down the field, but he hasn’t challenged defenses in that regard as a pro. Against the Jets, only three of his 30 pass attempts went beyond 15 yards in the air.

At the same time, Jones has the highest on-target throw percentage in the NFL, whole rookie classmates Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are struggling with accuracy at the moment. This attack is clearly working, so there’s no need to turn into Air Coryell.

Jones might need to wait a few weeks before he starts uncorking bombs down the field, as he will take on a New Orleans Saints defense that shut down Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, and that pass rush could be problematic. The defending-champion Buccaneers likely won’t provide a ton of reprieve.

While one school of thought tells rookie quarterbacks to uncork as many deep balls down the field as possible with the intent of getting the mistakes out of their system early, the Patriots seem to be gradually ramping up what Jones is asked to do as a passer. If they keep winning, there’s no need to change things too dramatically. Let the risky throws ease into his style of play.