Bill O'Brien reveals who should be blamed for Mac Jones' poor performance this year

New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints v New England Patriots / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

It's clear to anyone who has watched a single Patriots game this season that the team is an utter mess right now, and although some of the issues may be difficult to pinpoint, a few continue to be problematic in each new game. One of the most prominent of all has been the poor performance of Mac Jones, who was benched once again in New England's latest matchup with the Giants in Week 12.

It was the fourth time this season that the starting quarterback was taken out of a game for Bailey Zappe, with the latest benching coming after an interception and a nearly lost fumble. Jones' decision-making and ill-timed mistakes remain the topic of discussion outside of the debate surrounding Bill Belichick, and it will likely continue to be as calls for his permanent benching get louder.

Despite the obvious reactions to the quarterback's disappointing season, it's also starting to garner more sympathetic responses from those within the media and fans, with Boomer Esiason being the latest analyst to share that sentiment. It's hard to watch the complete downfall of a once-promising quarterback become what we see every week this season.

Most want to blame Jones entirely for how the Patriots have fared this season, and to some degree, it's a fair judgment to have. But many within the organization have come to his defense, including players, and now Bill O'Brien is joining the blame game as well.

When speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, the offensive coordinator was asked directly about Jones' struggles this season and how they've contributed to the poor showing of the team. Instead of piling on an already beaten-down player, O'Brien shared who he believes deserves to be blamed for the quarterback's regression this year.

"What I see is that he’s a very bright guy, he works very hard, he’s passionate about the game. Things haven’t gone great for him this year. I don’t think that he’s the No. 1 guy to blame. If you want to blame anybody, blame me. I’m the one that designs it and it’s not going very well.

Look, at the end of the day, can he execute better? Are there things that he can do better? Sure. But there’s things that all of us have to do better to put a winning product on the field, and right now that’s not what it is. What I see is a very confident guy, that’s a very bright guy, a very hard-working guy that’ll continue to work hard and try to improve on the things he needs to improve on."

Many may take issue with what O'Brien said, especially since a majority of people have already decided they are done with Jones and find him to be the biggest culprit for the offense's failures this season. However, O'Brien acknowledging that there is plenty of fault to place on others' shoulders, including his, is a far better assessment than solely blaming one player.

On top of that, he doesn't excuse Jones entirely. It's apparent that he has made horrific throws, committed too many turnovers, and had questionable mechanics. But at the same time, the offensive line has been atrocious, wide receivers aren't getting open or are running wrong routes, and the offense isn't able to rely on the run game almost at all.

Not many offenses in the NFL would be able to succeed in that type of situation.

O'Brien continued to show his support for Jones while also pointing out other areas the team needs to improve, including the coaching staff's need to do the same.

"What we need to do is do a good job of figuring out how we can get the offense to get better, each player to get better, to understand the detail of the play, whether it's the quarterback, the left guard, the wide receiver, the tight end, the running back, it doesn't matter. All of us coaches and players alike have to figure out how to improve, and that's what we're trying to do. I know it doesn't look great, but we're still going to keep trying to do that."

Although some may believe he should've placed more blame on certain players, O'Brien spreading the responsibility around the entire offense is the best way to go. Not only because it doesn't make the situation worse by calling players out directly, but having public support from him can only benefit Jones and his teammates, something that had been lacking since the quarterback was drafted.

How this will impact who will be the starting quarterback or how the offense will perform in Week 13 is yet to be seen. However, things can't really get much worse, so that's one silver lining, right?

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