ESPN analyst blames Patriots for Mac Jones’ season

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots looks on during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Patriots have provided a lot of topics of discussion this season, predominately due to their nagging offensive struggles. Much of the conversation has surrounded what some are referring to as a second-year regression in Mac Jones, placing most of the blame on the quarterback for a mediocre offensive performance through nine weeks.

Before the start of the season, there were high expectations placed on Jones to have a drastic second-season jump after accomplishing such a successful rookie season. Throughout the offseason, there were plenty of stories detailing the extensive work the quarterback was putting in to improve his on-field performance, nutrition, and athleticism.

Once the preseason began, and Jones was seemingly unable to maintain any consistency within the offense, word around New England started to speculate that signs of a step backward in his performance appeared evident. But knowing the preseason isn’t particularly remarkable for all players, especially in New England, not much was made of it at the time.

But then the regular season began and the issues witnessed throughout preseason practices and games were still present with Jones and the offense. There was leniency given leading up to the first game as Josh McDaniels had departed earlier in the year and Bill Belichick unofficially named Matt Patricia as the new offensive coordinator. On top of that, the coach revealed a new playbook and scheme were put in place for the upcoming season, throwing another curveball in the young quarterback’s career.

Working with new coaches is nothing new for Jones, who worked with three OCs during his time at Alabama. But Patricia had little to no experience with the offensive side of the football, leading many to question his capabilities of running a successful offense. He was also said to be the offensive line coach, another struggling piece of the team from the preseason through week nine, and likely another leading cause of Jones’ struggles.

As the Patriots head into their bye week a apparent3389568?s=20&t=aiF9IP7R2KPV8m-emDAOPgnd the issues needing to be addressed appear clearer than ever, the conversation surrounding Jones and the offense has become a leading topic across television networks. Although the team has consistently been a hot topic this year, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky decided to make his opinion known on the situation, highlighting a different viewpoint of what is happening in New England.

The debate on who is more to blame for the Patriots’ struggles offensively this season depends on who you ask. But one thing is clear, although Jones is not solely responsible, he isn’t blameless either.

In the first three games of the season, much of what was seen from Jones wasn’t too far strayed from his rookie year. He maintained a 66% average completion while throwing for 786 yards and an ADOT of 8.1 yards. However, one significant problem that Jones couldn’t escape was turning the ball over. In those three games, he totaled five interceptions in a very uncharacteristic performance, as it wasn’t a significant issue throughout 2021.

There was also a noticeable difference in the way he carried himself. He earned the reputation of being a confident player last year, and several teammates commented on his veteran-like mentality all season long. But his demeanor has appeared vastly different than what he displayed as a rookie, adding to the lengthy confusion surrounding the entire situation.

Since returning from a sprained ankle that kept him out of games four through six (and even mostly seven), Jones has looked like a completely different player from even just earlier this season. His completion percentage has remained the same, but he’s only passed for 354 yards with an ADOT of 4.2 yards.

His amateurish-like production was initially attributed to the possibility he returned too quickly from his ankle injury. And although that may be partially true, it doesn’t appear the injury has been bothersome in the two full games he’s played upon returning.

After a forgettable performance against the Colts last Sunday, Orlovsky elaborated on his stance regarding Jones when prompted from a response to his original tweet.

Orlovsky makes a fair point about the offensive production being lackluster and the play calling appearing predictable while also mentioning the inconsistency from the offensive line being one of the root causes of Jones’ alleged regression.

He followed up his tweets from Monday with a video from the Patriots’ week nine win, showing examples of what he says proves Jones is not the leading cause for the offensive woes.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that poor protection of your quarterback will not lead to much success, and the Patriots have seen that up close this season. Orlovsky’s example exemplifies that, even if it is just one example. And watching the game unfold with a vanilla game plan, a game plan so predictable that Colts’ defensive players could be heard calling what play they were going with, added to the already struggling offense.

Despite Orlovsky’s efforts, this is a debate with seemingly no answer. As with all things in life, the issues the Patriots have before them are likely due to various reasons. Something must change from Jones’s questionable decision-making and lack of confidence to Patricia’s inexperience and a possible overflowing plate of responsibilities.

Belichick and the other coaches need to take time during this bye week to determine the root cause of what is happening, or their season will continue the same path it is currently on.