Anyone who’s watched the Patriots’ offense through the first six practices of training camp this summer, the last two in full pads, knows the unit hasn’t been good enough.
There have been good plays here and there. Flashes of playmaking from individuals. But on the collective whole it’s been less than impressive.
Near the end of practice on Saturday, one of the bad plays from the unit was a Kyle Dugger interception of Mac Jones that left the second-year quarterback clearly showing his frustration.
Tuesday, after yet another sub-par workout from the offense that’s trying to develop under a new-look coaching staff led by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, Jones explained his frustrations early in camp action.
“I care a lot about football and we all do. 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 explained. “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. I feel like we can compete even more and even better but a lot of it is just execution and Xs and Os and figuring out how to communicate with each other. So, better days ahead but you know we’re in the start of this thing and we got to get it going but we just have to take it day-by-day.”
One notable aspect of the offensive struggles is Jones not being able to find open targets in his initial reads, then pulling the ball down to either scramble to buy time or even tuck it and run. Neither is likely to be the strength of Jones’ game or the Patriots’ offense in actual NFL game action.
“I think we have a lot of room to grow here. The goal for me is to not run the ball and throw it so, I think our offensive line is doing a good job, and we just have to get on the same page,” Jones said.
Clearly it’s not all on Jones. Or the coaches. Or the pass catchers. Or the linemen. It’s been collective struggles to open camp, the group trying to figure things out on the fly after years of New England having pretty distinct continuity under longtime proven offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now the head coach in Las Vegas.
And obviously six practices into training camp is not a time to panic.
“I was fortunate to play in a lot of games last year and not every game’s going to be perfect, and that’s what I learned and not every practice is going to be perfect,” Jones said. “But I just stick to my routine and I know what I’m supposed to do, I know what I’m looking for and sometimes I try different things in practice that I wouldn’t try in the game and that’s the whole point of practice. So just getting my feet wet in the new offense and trying different things and getting on the same page as the coaches is always good, just to see it on film and then teach from it.”
More importantly, to learn from it and improve from it. Because right now, Jones knows what he and the offense are doing on the early training camp practice field simply isn’t good enough.