Despite being in just his second NFL training camp, Mac Jones is the Patriots offense. The Patriots offense is Mac Jones.
At least that’s how it will be marketed, perceived and believed.
That’s the simple reality of life as a franchise quarterback.
So when New England’s new-look offense struggles, even just on the practice field against the team’s own work-in-progress suspect defense, the second-year Pro Bowl passer Jones will be at the center of the scuffling.
And if one thing is clear this hot summer days, it’s that the self-proclaimed perfectionist Jones is rather frustrated with what’s going on with his offense right now, practice field production at Gillette Stadium that would qualify as anything but perfection.
Jones displayed his frustration visually while leaving the practice field last Saturday after throwing a would-be pick-6 interception to safety teammate Kyle Dugger, one of many losing plays for the New England offense on the day.
Jones then voiced his frustration, in his own rather measured, mild fashion, in his second press conference of the summer with the gathered media on Tuesday.
Gone was the tone he took in his first media session of camp, when he expressed his love for the “open conversation” of the new offense under a new coaching staff that includes former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and former special teams coach Joe Judge in key roles, including calling plays.
Now, after six practices including the last couple in full pads, Jones is sounding very much like a competitor whose competition isn’t going too well. Which is exactly what is being seen more often than not on the sunny, sweaty practice fields of Foxborough.
“It’s very competitive and when we lose ‘the day,’ to me that’s like a shot in the heart, you know, it’s like we lost the game,” Jones said. “So, there’s a lot more than that because it’s practice you want to learn but at the end of the day we’re out here competing and the goal is, to have more good plays than the other team and in that case, that’s the defense right now.”
It’s only a week of practice, but a week in the Patriots offense looks pretty darn weak.
The passing game lacks efficiency, fluidity or consistency. The running game has found few holes to speak of. Sure there’s been occasional one-off success and individual players making individual plays.
But not often enough.
Not the kind of playmaking one would expect from an NFL offense.
Not the kind of performances that Jones clearly expects on his watch.
Not the kind of execution that will be needed in little more than a month against the Dolphins in Miami or for 16 more games after that.
Jones knows the Patriots are losing “the day” in practice too often. Heck, anyone who’s witnessed one of the first six practices of training camp has seen that.
He knows that as such he and the “new offense” are losing days to get better, to get ready for the actual competition that’s on the horizon.
“I have a lot to learn but I understand what makes a good play good and what makes a bad play bad, I’ve played football long enough to realize that,” Jones said of what he seen so far in camp, clearly too many bad plays.
But he’s still focused on the process, one led by coaches themselves that have plenty to learn and prove in terms of getting Jones and the offense to where it needs to be. And, at least verbally, Jones is still putting his trust in those men.
“We have great coaches who will get us there. I think right now, it’s more about the communication of getting there, and we need to kind of just grow a little bit more here and kind of pick up the pace a little bit,” Jones said.
The Patriots “new offense” isn’t anywhere near where Jones and likely anyone else in New England wants it to be a week into training camp. While that’s less than ideal, it’s not the end of the world.
The question, though, is where will the offense be in a week when it hits the preseason field for the first time or, most importantly, where will it be come September, October and through the regular season?
Though frustrated with where he and the offense are at in early August, Jones is at least trying to remain optimistic.
“Better days ahead but you know we’re in the start of this thing and we got to get it going,” Jones declared.
Yes they do, because the more days the New England loses the more the pressure will build on Jones. That’s just the nature of the NFL QB beast.