Mac Jones Seeks Outside Help Again

Mac Jones

Getty Mac Jones hasn't hit on deep balls consistently this year.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones confirmed he has looked outside of Foxboro again for help with recent offensive struggles.

Only he didn’t turn to his alma mater, Alabama, for advice this time, which stirred rumors of a rift between him and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick last season. Jones has been studying film of other NFL teams to resolve the Patriots’ biggest offensive issue — a lack of a deep ball.

“I love chunk plays,” Jones told the media on Wednesday, September 27. “My whole career I’ve kind of thrived off those play-action and normal chunk plays. … I think we’ll hit them or we’re working on it. I’ve looked at other teams in the league and how they do it and kind of gotten a really good idea of, ‘How can I improve on it? How can we improve on it as a team?’”

Jones is averaging a career-low 9.2 yards per completion this season, and he completed only one pass that went nearly 20 yards in the air for Week 3. His touchdown pass to tight end Pharaoh Brown went just shy of 20 yards through the air before Brown took it a total of 58 yards to the house in a 15-10 win over the New York Jets.

Otherwise, Jones went 0-5 on passes of 20-plus yards, and his longest completions were 17 and 15 yards on Sunday, September 24. In the previous two weeks, Jones only completed two passes of 20 yards or longer in a season-opening loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, and none of his pass plays went beyond 15 yards in a Week 2 defeat against the Miami Dolphins.

Bill Belichick on Mac Jones: ‘We’ve Got to Hit Them’

Belichick acknowledged Jones’ struggles early in the week and wants to see a change. Overall, Jones went 0-8 on left side deep balls and 1-6 on right side deep balls this season per Pro Football Focus.

“Those are statistically the hardest passes to hit,” Belichick told the media on Monday, September 25. “…We’ve got to hit them, we’ve got to throw them and we need more production out of the deep balls. I mean, not every play is going to be a 40-yard pass. But the ones that we throw during the game — 30 yards, 40 yards, 25 yards, whatever it is — we want to be productive on those plays.”

Patriots Playmakers Aren’t Gaining Chunk Yardage

It doesn’t end with Jones as the playmakers haven’t stretched the field after the catch. New England has a league-low three plays of 20 yards or more, and only one of them came from a wide receiver — rookie Demario Douglas.

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson has the other big play besides Douglas and Brown. Stevenson gained 32 yards on a pass play in Week 1 against the Eagles.

Kendrick Bourne has the longest reception by a wide receiver, 19 yards, after Douglas. The other two highest-paid Patriots receivers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker, haven’t gone beyond 16 yards on a pass play this season.

“We have to do a lot of things better offensively… We definitely need to improve on getting the ball down the field, chunk plays,” Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien told reporters on Tuesday, September 26.