The Patriots continue to face a lot of criticism this season, particularly in regards to the new offensive scheme that they’re trying to implement. The first few weeks of training camp were rough as the offense struggled to get a grasp on the new playbook and work together seamlessly. Frustration from the players became evident, from David Andrews to Mac Jones. It was apparent there was some adjusting to do.
During this past week, however, the Patriots’ offense appeared to have taken a turn for the better. Although it was only in training camp, the improvements became more valid as they were working against the Panthers in their joint practice sessions. After their last practice together concluded on Wednesday, Mac Jones would speak to the media with much of the questioning focusing on the offensive work.
When he was first asked about the progress he felt was made specifically this week working with the Panthers, Jones emphasized how good Carolina’s defense was last season, which allowed the Patriots’ offense to get an even better look at how they’re doing thus far. Jones would then be asked how the strides they’ve made this week compared to last week;
"“I think we’ve done some good things, made some adjustments, and stuff and moving in the right direction. That’s all you can ask for is just for me to be able to step up in the pocket and make the throws. That’s all it is for me, or hand the ball off to the right guy, or hit the check down hit the deep ball, it doesn’t matter. I think we have guys that can make plays all over the field.”"
Because of the consistent disjointedness of the Patriots’ offense this preseason, and concerns surrounding the complete overhaul of the playbook in Jones’ second season, there has been a lot of chatter about how involved the quarterback has been with all the changes.
Not only is Jones dealing with brand new play-calling, but he’s also going through the process of working with a new offensive coordinator. Both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge have been seen working with the offense throughout camp, although neither has been given the official OC title. But when the media asked Jones about how they’re all working together, he would detail the collaborative effort amongst them.
"“I think the coaches have done a good job just kind of listening to us and you know if we don’t like something it’s something that they’re going to listen to and tell us why we should do one thing or another. At the end of the day they have a lot of experience and they know exactly how to attack a defense and that’s something that we’ve kind of bought into. There’s a lot of knowledge. A lot of it is just making sure we’re all on the same page like you said. We’ve grown in that area and we have to continue to do that.”"
He would go on to discuss how they’ve made adjustments to the playbook since the start of camp and his appreciation for Bill Belichick including his thoughts and ideas in the process.
"“There are things that I like, and we’re trying to incorporate them more. Or things that Coach Belichick sees on film he’s like, ‘hey what do you think about this?’ So it’s very fluid and for them to be able to take some of our thoughts is really important. I think the really good offenses in the NFL, you can tell that the play callers and the quarterback are on the same page. So I think we’re getting there and that’s the progress we need, and I’ve been really pleased with that.”"
When asked about the communication between himself and the presumed OC in Patricia, Jones said he felt good about their relationship while also mentioning the other coaches’ involvement as well.
"“I know Matt’s called a lot of plays in the NFL, so, he has really good experience. Coach Judge has good experience, and obviously Coach Belichick does, too. So, whoever’s calling it, it’s our job to execute.”"
Of course, Jones would be asked how he’s felt since the first couple of weeks when he displayed obvious frustration during practices.
"“At the end of the day, you’re going to have your ups and downs with anything new … I think we’re close on a lot of things. It’s just that 2% we need to fix.”"
Jones has maintained confidence with the new offense and has expressed that throughout his press conferences at training camp. It’s clear he’s taking the role of leading the offense seriously, and hoping to lead by example with that.
Overcoming the difficulties of learning anything new isn’t lost on Jones nor the players around him. And realizing that not every single practice is going to be perfect with growing pains to overcome will inevitably make this team a better unit overall. Time will tell if they continue on the path of improvement and understanding, which becomes especially more important with the regular season just around the corner.