Among the unlimited stories to make headlines during the Patriots bye week regarding Mac Jones, one that piqued the interest of most fans was the rumor of the quarterback losing the locker room due to his repeated poor performances this season.
It was initially reported by the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan, who suggested Jones's teammates began to lose support for him stemming from the Week 5 game against the Saints. It was a game where the offense could not score any points and came on the heels of another blowout loss to the Cowboys.
Both games consisted of bad decision making, a total of four interceptions and two pick sixes to make matters even worse. Jones hasn't performed much better since then, besides the delightful win against the Bills, all of which may have led to an attitude shift from his teammates in the locker room.
Because the story has run rampant throughout the team's bye week, Jahlani Tavai was one player who was asked directly about his trust in the quarterback and if he feels his teammates are turning their backs on him.
"Of course I’m a believer in Mac. I don’t know who said that, but no, he hasn’t lost us. "
Some may discredit his assertion because he's a defensive player and doesn't work directly with Jones. However, allegations have been made that the defense has grown frustrated with the offense and their continuous struggles throughout the season, mainly because the defense has kept them in many games and given them more opportunities to score some points.
Tavai expanded on his response to the rumor, doubling down that the team still has his back.
"That’s wild. But no, he hasn’t lost any of us on the team. So it will be a good week for him to just get away from football. And when he gets back I hope he knows all 52 other guys are ready to get after it with him."
Regardless of how truthful Tavai's statements are to the media about the behind-the-scenes happenings in Foxboro, it's significant that he shares his support publicly for his highly criticized quarterback. It's few and far between at this point to find anyone defending Jones for any reason, especially after his latest benching against the Colts in Week 10.
Because it was his third time being pulled from a game this season, scrutiny has heightened surrounding Jones, and many have come to the conclusion that the quarterback should not be playing another snap for the Patriots for (at least) the rest of the season, which prompted a strong response from Tavai.
"I mean, if somebody out there in the world thinks that they can do a better job, they can try and sign up. Being a quarterback is one of the toughest positions. So my hat goes off to him for keeping his poise, you know, week in and week out. I don’t think they see the hard work that he puts into this, into his work.
He’s working his tail off to improve himself every week and that’s just from what I’m seeing. So, I have nothing but respect for Mac. All the outside noise, you know, I really, I truly don’t really care about it. Like I just want him to know that we got his back."
"I just want him to know that we got his back."
That statement will greatly affect how things pick back up when the team returns from their bye week. It's unclear if Bill Belichick will decide on Jones's fate for the rest of the season, although their practice on Wednesday indicated there will not be a quarterback change. However, the support of his teammates could make the difference between him remaining on the bench and one of the backups stripping him of his QB1 title.