If Patriots quarterback Mac Jones reports to practice this week with a sore shoulder, it could be less from the career-high 54 passes he attempted on the night and more from the utter self-flagellation he inflicted after Week 1’s bummer of a 25-20 loss to the defending NFC champion Eagles.
Jones had impressive numbers on Sunday, throwing for 316 yards and completing 35 of his throws. He had three touchdowns and one interception, a play that went about as poorly as possible—Jones gave away seven points on the Patriots’ first drive of the game, on a pick-6 to Eagles corner Darius Slay.
Jones never seemed to forgive himself for putting the Pats into that hole, because the play put New England down, 10-0, and they could never quite escape that deficit. He almost made a point of telling the postgame media that the foibles of Sunday afternoon should be blamed on him.
“I think just working through some things,” Jones said after the game. I really didn’t throw any good passes on the first drive, so definitely a slow start, and it starts with me. Just got to watch the tape and clean it up, but definitely felt like we fought hard. … So, definitely let the team down tonight. Couldn’t score early, and we just fell behind because of me, and I put it on myself.”
Jones Said He Let Everyone Down
And he continued to put it on himself. Jones, who took some criticism for the way he conducted himself at times last season—he was seen more than once yelling at teammates and coaches in frustration—wanted to leave no doubt that the frustration here in 2023 started and ended with himself.
Asked about the makeshift Patriots offensive line, which held its own against a very difficult Eagles front seven, Jones offered high praise of the unit.
“I felt like they did an amazing job. Couldn’t thank them enough for the job they did tonight,” Jones said before he stepped back in to tale more blame. “Been really proud of those guys, and definitely felt like I let them down a little bit at the end. I didn’t play my best game so definitely just got to keep working.”
Jones also talked up the Patriots’ defense, which saw the Eagles turn Jones’ interception and a fumble by Ezekiel Elliott into two touchdowns and a quick lead of 16-0. The New England D held firm from there—only giving up three field goals—at least giving the Patriots a shot at getting back into the game.
“When it’s the hardest, that’s when you need to play your best,” Jones said. “I definitely can do it. I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. Just have to be better, and definitely came back and had a chance to win the game a few times. Just felt like I let the defense down, and I’ll have to live with that.”
Eagles Did not Sack Jones Much
At one point during Jones’ press conference, a reporter actually told him, “Mac, you’re being hard on yourself.” Which was true.
But Jones did not really deserve the beating he was giving himself. Yes, he had a slow start, but he rebounded nicely against a defense that has the top-rated defensive line, per Pro Football Focus’ unit rankings, and the No. 3 secondary.
There were no further interceptions after the pick-6—which was not really his fault, since the ball bounced off the hands of receiver Kendrick Bourne—and Jones was sacked only twice in the game. Both of those sacks came late in the game (with less than three minutes to play) as Jones and the Patriots were desperately trying to get in position for a winning touchdown.
“I felt like there was definitely a couple of times when I probably didn’t throw it to the right guy,” Jones said. “Just have to watch the film, sometimes when you are out there, it’s going fast. Just trying to stay neutral and don’t go up and down, which I tried not to do tonight.”