Mac Jones has apparently found motivation in his rough introduction to the NFL playoffs.
Jones and the New England Patriots were dismantled by the Buffalo Bills in last season’s Wild Card round, with the Bills putting together a near-perfect offensive performance. Jones is keeping a reminder of the blowout loss as he prepares for next season.
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Patriots Quarterback Wants to Remember Loss
On August 12, Pats Pulpit reporter Brian Hines posted a picture of WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey in the Patriots locker room, and a sharp-eyed viewer caught a glimpse of an image hanging in Jones’ locker in the background.
A zoomed-in version of the picture showed that it was a dejected Jones walking off the field following New England’s 47-17 loss to Buffalo on January 15. Though Jones was far from the biggest problem for the Patriots that game — he completed 24 of 38 passes for 232 yards with the team’s only two touchdowns — he was highly critical of his performance afterward.
“For me, obviously, I was a rookie and … played like that sometimes and I shouldn’t have,” Jones told reporters during his postgame press conference. “I can play better, and that’s my goal this offseason is just to advance and bring the guys along with me.”
There was likely little Jones could have done to change the outcome, as Josh Allen led the Bills on a nearly perfect offensive night. The Bills scored touchdowns on all seven drives before backup Mitch Trubisky came in for a final kneel-down drive to close out the win.
The bitter ending aside, Jones is coming off a strong rookie season where he completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Jones for the work he’s put in this offseason, saying he’s showing a greater command of the offense.
“We’re just a lot further ahead in the conversation [offensively],” Belichick said, via ESPN. “The plays that we talk about, or concepts we talk about, Mac has already done it before. It’s easy for him to say, ‘Are we going to do this on that? Are we going to do this on something else? What do you think about splitting them a little bit wider? Splitting them a little bit tighter.’ Suggestions like that.”
Bills Expected to Top AFC East Again
The Patriots will be entering the 2022 season as underdogs again, with the Bills a near-unanimous pick to win the AFC East. In an AFC East projection from The Athletic’s Austin Mock, the Bills are picked to win the division with the Miami Dolphins in second. The Patriots are picked to finish third, with Mock noting that New England’s defense is a bigger concern than Jones’s play.
“Any steps taken back by Jones will be the biggest factor in a poor season in New England, but my main concern is on defense,” Mock wrote. “As stated earlier, the cornerback position is a big question mark just a few weeks away from the regular season, and there aren’t many star players on this unit.
“If this defensive unit underachieves, you can easily see them drop into the bottom 10 in the NFL. With the Bills being a dominant offensive team and the possibility of an improvement in Miami, the defense could be a problem for the Patriots in 2022.”