In his first preseason action of 2023, it was definitely a tough night for New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who ended up with a mixed performance in the three series he played in against the Packers.
Jones and the offense started things off with good field position after a botched center exchange by Jordan Love – who lost the football – on the Packers’ first possession, gave New England the ball at Green Bay’s 18-yard line after Josh Uche recovered the turnover.
However, the drive didn’t start out all that well. Left tackle Trent Brown was called for a false start on the first play from scrimmage, immediately starting things off on the wrong foot and putting the Patriots in 1st-and-15. But fortunately, Kendrick Bourne helped them overcome Brown’s penalty thanks to back-to-back plays where he made a couple of nice moves on his routes as Jones connected with him for passes for 4 and 13 yards, respectively.
The latter throw was probably the most impressive. Facing significant pressure coming in from his right, Jones stepped into the pass and fired off a terrific completion to Bourne, which gave New England 1st-and-goal from the Packers’ six-yard line.
Four plays later, after Jones threw a fade route to the corner where DeVante Parker was interfered with (which put the ball at the Packers’ one-yard line), Rhamondre Stevenson finished things off with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots an early 7-0 lead.
The next series saw some similar frustration. Stevenson started things off with a 23-yard run, taking the ball out to the Patriots’ 35-yard line. That one came after Jones made a great adjustment at the line, which helped set up the play.
But Jones then overshot Hunter Henry on the next snap after the tight end Henry was pressed at the line by safety Jonathan Owen, and was held up slightly right before Jones let go of the football. It ended up being just enough to disrupt the timing between the two on that play, with the ball sailing over Henry for an incompletion.
That turned out to be a significant missed opportunity as Jones found himself getting sacked two plays later on a 3rd-and-9 after he couldn’t step up thanks to a rush by Green Bay.
On that play, looking at again, Jones literally had no chance. Every single offensive lineman up front, except for center David Andrews, was driven back into Jones (Andrews was standing all alone with his man multiple yards in front of the rest of the fray). Right tackle Sidy Sow ended up being the one who ultimately lost his battle against linebacker Kingsley Enagbare, who leaped in and dropped Jones for the loss and killed the drive.
That ended up being a sign of things to come as Jones came up with a great play to begin their next possession, sliding up in the pocket and delivering a fairly good throw that was just out in front of DeVante Parker, who didn’t put much of an effort to try and go up and get it and it fell incomplete.
Two plays later, following a carry by Kevin Harris on second down where he failed to pick up a yard, Jones hit rookie Demario Douglas on a great route where the rookie sprinted out and shifted inside, with Jones delivering the football. Douglas picked up 15 yards and the first down, moving the chains.
Bourne was solid Saturday night. (PHOTO: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)
Three plays later, Jones hit Kendrick Bourne after missing him the play before for a 17-yard throw on a 3rd-and-8, with Jones putting it up high where only Bourne could get it as pressure was again bearing down on him. In fact, looking at it further, it was an unreal play by Jones, who was drilled as he released it by linebacker Justin Hollins, which makes it even more impressive that he both got off the throw and that the ball was completed.
It was a big play, moving the chains and taking New England down to the Green Bay 27-yard line.
However, Jones was dropped for a sack on the next play by Enagbare, who came in over left tackle behind him after Andrew Steuber (who had replaced Trent Brown at left tackle) couldn’t hold him off, with Enagbare knocking the ball out as Jones was winding up to throw.
To add insult to injury, Stueber then stood there looking at the football literally a couple of yards in front of him and didn’t even immediately attempt to try and recover it.
Instead, it was Enagbare who came up with the turnover at the Green Bay 38-yard line.
It was a brutal end to the evening for Jones, who was replaced by Bailey Zappe on the ensuing series.
Jones ended up completing 6-of-9 throwing the football for 52-yards and overall really didn’t look that bad after a second review. Still, it was a tough way to finish what had otherwise been a pretty good week for the Patriots signal-caller.
The third-year quarterback spoke mostly about the situation with his fallen teammate after the game, politely declining to answer anything football-related as he spoke to reporters.
“I’ll probably pass on the football [question], but we definitely just want to pray for him and his family,” said Jones. “I do appreciate you asking, but we’ll probably save it for next week.”
That was likely the only snaps we’ll see him take ahead of the regular season, as starters generally don’t play in the preseason finale. The club will play its final exhibition game in Tennessee on Friday against the Titans.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Andrew Steuber Demario Douglas Hunter Henry Kendrick Bourne Kingsley Enagbare Mac Jones Trent Brown