Many takes are being thrown around after the Patriots' latest loss regarding the futures of Bill Belichick and Mac Jones. The most discussed scenarios are being talked about in absolutes, which is foolish since we can't predict what the organization will do about either man, but the most common takeaway from the game against the Colts is that Mac Jones is a horrible quarterback and deserves to be benched permanently.
Maybe that is what will happen with the quarterback since he was benched for the third time this season. However, until the interception happened, he wasn't playing badly. He was far from perfect, but the offensive line was putrid throughout almost the entire game.
Regardless of whatever excuses may come from the team's performance, warranted or not, Jones did not play up to par whatsoever on Sunday. Because they say actions speak louder than words, and his actions have proven that it is difficult to trust him to make good decisions, is it fair to question his accountability after the fact?
He's never been one to shy away from bearing responsibility for his mistakes, never shifting the blame to anyone other than himself. That's what Jones stuck to when speaking to reporters after the latest loss, acknowledging he needs to play better for people to believe in him, especially Belichick.
"At the end of the day, I’ve got to play better. So, to make people believe, you’ve got to be better. I’m not sure. I don’t know."
Most of the game will be criticized by Jones' final play, which took place in the fourth quarter after a successful drive got the offense into the red zone. The quarterback underthrew a pass to Mike Gesicki, resulting in an interception to Julian Blackmon, which presumptively led to Belichick benching him for the third time this season.
It was another situation that Jones took credit for, admitting it was a bad throw, and despite practicing that very scenario, he failed to execute correctly.
"It was a terrible throw. Practiced it, hit it in practice, snugged the throw, and I knew where to go. I just didn’t do it. Didn’t do it right."
Although it would be incredibly difficult for him to pass the buck to anyone else on that play, hearing Jones own the mistake could mean a lot. The problem is that it remains the same old song: he throws a bad pass that results in an interception, and after the game, he accepts the responsibility for it all.
But the mistake keeps happening, making most question if his accountability really holds any weight ten weeks into the 2023 season.
Jones took accountability further when discussing the coach's decision to bench him late in the game. He went as far as saying he wasn't "playing very good" and understood why it happened while reiterating his desire to win the game and knowing that making a mistake like that wouldn't yield that result.
"It’s hard, right? It’s a difficult situation. At the end of the day, I really did want the team to win. I’ll always be that person. I know that we didn’t win, so it’s hard for everybody.
I have to play better and not even be in that situation. It’s not ideal for anybody. No one is going to do good in that situation."
His awareness of how poorly he played is admirable, as some quarterbacks are hesitant to take responsibility for their shortcomings. And despite this being one of the most ill-timed interceptions of his career, Jones maintained he was at fault for losing the game.
It's become a theme this season, but there was a noticeable change in Jones' demeanor when speaking to the reporters on Sunday. Other than his apparent frustration, which could be partly due to losing the game and having to talk to reporters about it right afterward, he expressed his benching felt different than the previous ones this year before taking the blame again.
"Just like I said, didn’t play very well. I’ve played well in my career before, but just not right now. It’s peaks and valleys, but I’m kind of in a valley right now and just got to bounce back."
Could this be a sign that Jones feels he may not get another chance as the starter for the season?
Could it be just another layer of his frustration stemming from the basically game-sealing interception?
If this isn't the end of his time as New England's quarterback, does his accountability mean anything to those ready to move on from him?
We won't know right away, as the Patriots head to their bye week and won't return to Gillette for several days. Seeing what happens in the meantime will be one of the more interesting stories to follow, though.
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