Patriots’ Mac Jones showing frustration isn’t a bad thing

Oct 30, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Patriots entered week 14 on a two-game losing streak and needed to take home a win against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Although they were able to leave Arizona the victors, the game didn’t start very promising, particularly offensively.

A lot has been said and will be said about the Patriots offense this season, especially when players are seen expressing their frustrations amidst a game or when speaking to the media post-game. Mac Jones’s sideline outburst from a few weeks ago went viral, providing networks all they needed to discuss New England the following morning.

With so much pressure to win against the Cardinals this week, there was hope that the offense would play similarly to how they performed on Thanksgiving Day in Minnesota. But the first half was reminiscent of what most have complained about regarding the play-calling, with even Mac Jones making his annoyance known during the game.

It was another prominent display of frustration shown by Jones over the past few weeks, with most fans agreeing and understanding why the quarterback felt that way. This, of course, blew up on Twitter and was unsurprisingly negatively received by the Boston media, in particular Ted Johnson and Matt Cassel of NBC Sports Boston.

Immediately after the game ended, Johnson and Cassel shared their takes on Jones’s behavior during the game, focusing on how they interpreted the quarterback “showing up” his offensive coordinator. Johnson expressed his distaste for what Jones did and felt the quarterback created a more difficult situation for himself and the team.

"“To see a second-year quarterback show up his offensive coordinator…that’s what he was doing. Mac Jones wanted us all to see how frustrated he was with his offensive coordinator in, Matt Patricia. I mean, there’s no other real way to kind of slice it other than that. In the old ecosystem, that would just never happen.”"

One of the biggest takeaways from Johnson’s response is the emphasis on Jones being only a second-year player, almost implying he’s not allowed to be frustrated in a very frustrating environment all season long. He also fails to mention that with Jones displaying his frustration again on Monday night, he is not the first Patriots player to share their disappointment and annoyance with the offense this season.

Kendrick Bourne has been vocal when discussing game planning and play-calling, which was not limited to his decreased usage this year compared to last. Hunter Henry expressed his desire to see the offense perform better. And other players have also made subtle hints of sharing their teammate’s thoughts.

Because the Patriots have historically been very tight-lipped when sharing their grievances with the media, it makes sense that most who have been involved with the organization or a fan of the team for a long time would prefer it stayed that way. But at the same time, the media always wants something to discuss, regardless of the circumstances.

When Jones, the coaches, and the team overall responded to dozens of questions about the offenses’ continued poor performances as if everything was completely fine, they were harped on for being in denial of the obvious. Now that some players on the team have displayed what many of us have felt throughout the season, it’s a problem?

No matter what they do, they’re clearly in a lose/lose situation.

Cassel agreed with what Johnson had to say, describing his battles with coaching behind closed doors throughout his NFL career as a reason he didn’t particularly like Jones’s actions.

"“You’re the leader of the team. You’re the guy that everybody’s looking for. You gotta control your emotions a little bit better, particularly when you’re in game. If you have an issue with something, come over to the sideline, sit down, hash it out, and there’s arguments. Look, I played in the league for 14 years. I had arguments. I had screaming matches, at times. But I tried to do it on the sideline to where it’s not in the middle of a game when all eyes are on you and the entire national broadcast… everybody’s seeing it across the country. Now you’re going to have to answer to that question once again.”"

While Cassel’s opinion on the matter is not far-fetched, it’s also ignoring how often we see players and coaches have disagreements every week in the NFL. It’s not limited to Jones and Patricia or the Patriots. Competition brings out the best (and worst) in people, with emotions boiling over and frustrations often getting the better of you.

Have we not seen Tom Brady break several tablets on the sideline before? Do we not see players showing anger and aggravation when their team is not performing well? It’s nothing new, and Jones shouldn’t be treated as an outlier.

The quarterback remained optimistic during some of the lowest points of the team’s season, despite the outcry for an overhaul of the coaching staff. But because he has now had multiple instances of showing his frustrations on the field, it’s an issue, not a display of passion, as some have referenced it. There’s no winning to be had here.

However, a different member of the NBCS Boston team had a different take. During his recent appearance on Quick Slants, Tom Curran sided with Jones and proclaimed it’s exactly what this Patriots team needs right now as they fight to keep a spot in the playoffs.

"“In short, Mac Jones is going down fighting. And in my opinion, this is exactly what the Patriots need in this season spent bobbing on the waves. Urgency is what the Patriots have lacked all season long. From Bill Belichick’s coaching hires for the slow roll of the offensive install, to Bill’s ‘this is going to take a while’ warnings, to some of the most timid play-calling in game management in the league. This year’s team has spent the entire season scratching the side of its head and trying to figure things out. Mac Jones was far from perfect, but he’s at least turning the heat up in December for a team that’s made a habit of cooling down in the last month of the year. To me, this is exactly what the Patriots need. And the people who get their egos hurt because the second-year quarterback is yelling at them to do their jobs and not be repeat offenders, too flippin’ bad. Check your ego, do your job. That’s the way it used to work around here.”"

Curran is dead on with his viewpoint of the entire situation. The Patriots need someone to stand up and show passion as they head into the most challenging stretch of their schedule. A win in Arizona moved them back into a wild card spot for the playoffs, a spot that has consistently changed over the past two weeks. A spot that three of the four AFC East teams are fighting to secure.

If the quarterback of your team isn’t the one to show the fire needed to end the season on a high note, then who will? And who should?