Mac Jones looks like a shell of the promising player we saw as a rookie. Regardless of what has tanked his confidence the last two seasons, it’s clear that the issue is between the ears.
Jones’ decision-making has been dreadful for a long time now, and his latest miscue might have been enough to put the nail in his proverbial coffin as the Patriots’ starting quarterback.
With the Patriots down four in the fourth quarter and on Indianapolis' 14-yard line, Jones had Mike Gesicki wide open in the end zone for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. He left the ball remarkably short, planting it right in the hands of Colts safety Julian Blackmon. That got Jones stapled to the bench, with Bill Belichick preferring a cold Bailey Zappe running the two-minute drill late in the game rather than risk another gaffe from Jones.
Jones has shown shades of his former self at points throughout the season, albeit rarely, and despite getting X-rays after the game, he doesn’t seem to be playing through any serious injuries. Former quarterback Boomer Esiason told The Greg Hill Show on Monday what he thinks is crushing Jones.
“It’s got to be mental. It can’t be physical, he can throw the ball fine,” Esiason said. “The fact of the matter is you drop back – you practice this play in practice a thousand times. His receiver is wide open only 10 yards further down the field than where the defender is. To throw it right to the defender where he did is unexplainable. I don’t know what he’s thinking, I don’t know what he’s seeing.
“And I’ll tell you this, he had nightmares on the flight back. There’s no way he could have slept without any sort of pharmaceutical help, I can tell you that, because that is a nightmare for all of us who have ever played that position. To do something like that at that point in the game and not be able to come back from it, and then get benched on top of it – that’s all you need to know about how the coach feels about you and how the entire fanbase probably feels this morning.”
Jones finished the game 15-for-20 for 170 yards with no touchdowns and the one interception. Whether that was his final showing as the Patriots starter remains to be seen, but it has become clear, if not certain, that he won’t be New England’s franchise quarterback as once envisioned.