The Mac Jones criticism has hit a new high, and if the second-year quarterback doesn’t start playing better, the record will rise again next week.
While the New England Patriots got their first win of the season in Week 2 on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones’ performance in the 17-14 win left a lot to be desired. There appears to be a belief that the Patriots didn’t win because of Jones, but more despite his errors and potential game-breaking blunders.
The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard offered a detailed breakdown of what he described as inexcusable errors from Jones that aren’t consistent with the performances you’ll see from “good” NFL quarterbacks.
“Could you excuse Jones’ performance due to the pressure factor,” Bedard asked in acknowledgment of the Steelers’ ability to get pressure on the Patriots QB. Jones wasn’t sacked, but there was consistent pressure throughout the game. “Absolutely. Do I think the back issue he suffered against Miami factored into some of this, and he’s dealing with something? Yes, I do (and for his and the team’s sake, I hope that is the guess because it means he can and will be better in the future).”
Through the first two games of the season, Jones has completed 64.6% of his passes for 465 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. Those numbers are decent but not overly impressive. Bedard’s take makes a bit more sense when you consider the plays he’s missed and some of the near-disastrous decisions he’s made and gotten away with.
“But at the end of the day, I did not think Jones’ performance in this game can be excused,” Bedard continued. “Below, we lay out eight plays backed up by the coaches’ film that a good NFL quarterback has to make. In this game, more than any other, Jones flinched at the pressure as he threw early and/or off his back foot and didn’t see or anticipate wide-open receivers. If this team is to do anything this season, Jones will have to stand in and be tougher in the pocket.”
Bedard described the eight plays where Jones fell short of the standard. There is one instance where Bedard accuses Jones of “bailing” on a play that could have been a first down or perhaps a TD on a third-and-13 from the Steelers’ 20.
There’s also the interception on the 50-50 ball. It was a play-action pass, and Jones was looking to get the ball to DeVante Parker. This pass should have been thrown if Parker had a one-on-one situation. The 50-50 pass is understandable in that situation. Unfortunately, Jones failed to recognize Minkah Fitzpatrick lingering deep, and the Steelers’ elite safety easily picks the ball off.
There’s also an instance where Jones misses a wide-open Lil’Jordan Humphrey running up the middle of the field. Instead, Jones gets happy feet in the pocket, moves, and throws an inaccurate check-down throw to Rhamondre Stevenson that he can’t get a handle on.
There are several other similar instances through Bedard’s breakdowns.
Former Patriots QB Wasn’t As Hard on Mac Jones
Not everyone pounded Jones for his play against the Steelers. Former Patriots QB and current NBC Boston analyst Matt Cassel took it easier on Jones.
When asked to talk about his takeaways from Jones’ performance in Week 2, Cassel said:
“I thought he had control of the offense all day long,” Cassel said on NBC Sports Boston’s “Postgame Live.” “Look, it wasn’t perfect. There are going to be some throws that he misses, particularly the one where he got flushed out to his left and panicked and threw the ball right to a defender. Luckily it wasn’t intercepted. But at the end of the day, the two things that really stood out to me at the end of the game — it’s the final drive, and we talked about the run game and how that closed out this game. But part of that was Mac Jones.”
There was far too much panic on Jones’ part in Week 2, and he’ll need to clear this up moving into the Week 3 home opener.
What’s Next For Mac Jones and the Patriots?
The Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens in their Week 3 matchup. Both teams are 1-1 after the Patriots’ win, and the Ravens blew a 21-point lead to the Miami Dolphins at home.
Tua Tagovailoa and the speedy Dolphins wreaked havoc on the Ravens’ secondary. Tagovailoa threw for 6 TD passes and 469 yards. Tagovailoa has more weapons than Jones, but you’d have to believe the Patriots can get some momentum throwing the ball this week.
If Jones doesn’t shine in Week 3, expect the temperature to be turned up this time next week.