Some New England Patriots news and notes for this morning:
A Homecoming For Jackson
The Patriots made a surprise move on Wednesday, with New England bringing the disgruntled Chargers defensive back home to where he started.
According to Mike Reiss and Kris Rhim of ESPN, the Patriots have traded for Jackson, which adds a player to a secondary that is absolutely in need of reinforcements
The move comes just days following Christian Gonzalez’s shoulder injury, which likely means he’ll be out for an extended period of time. It also likely means that, as Reiss previously reported, Jack Jones is still a ways from getting back on the field.
Jackson departed the Patriots following the 2021 season, with Jackson signing a five-year deal in Los Angeles with the Chargers.
Now he’s back, and New England certainly needs him to hopefully pick up where he left off, with the veteran finishing his final season in New England leading the team with 8 interceptions.
The Patriots are currently preparing to battle the New Orleans Saints, with kickoff at Gillette Stadium set for 1:00pm on Sunday.
All Eyes on Mac
Obviously, the number one thing on everyone’s mind this week is going to be how Mac Jones rebounds from Sunday’s horrific showing in Dallas, which now has the quarterback firmly under the microscope here in New England.
Jones isn’t exactly a stranger to this situation, which has quickly turned into a repeat of 2022 after Jones got off to rocky start through his first four games of last season, including the ankle injury he dealt with at the end of the Ravens game in Week 3.
That set up his return on national television against the Chicago Bears in Week 7, which, with Jones still clearly hampered, ultimately saw him get benched in favor of Bailey Zappe following a second-quarter interception. The Patriots trailed 10-0 as he left the field, and ultimately went on to lose 33-14.
However, Jones did rebound the following week after Bill Belichick put the quarterback controversy he fed into to bed, with Jones going out and completing 24-of-35 (68.8%) for 194-yards along with a touchdown in a 22-17 win over the Jets at MetLife. Jones was better when it came to ball security in that game, despite the fact he did have an interception which resulted when his arm was hit as he was throwing the ball.
Aside from that, the ball wasn’t put in harm’s way, and it was the first of a three-game win streak for New England, with their next loss not coming until Thanksgiving day in Minnesota.
Over that four-game stretch, Jones was better. During his first four starts of 2022, Jones completed 67-of-103 (65%) for 799 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
Following what was essentially a reset after that Bears debacle, over his next four starts, he completed 97-of-133 (72.9%) 985 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
That’s now what needs to happen. With his team sitting at 1-3 and about to embark on a two-game stretch of what may be their best chance to string a couple of wins together, he needs to deliver. Because after that, they’re going to face both Buffalo, followed by Miami in two weeks, each of which will likely be games where they’re going to need to get points on the board.
O’Brien: “We have a lot of belief in Mac”
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was asked about his quarterback on Tuesday, and said that he still has belief in his young signal-caller.
“Mac’s a battler. He’s a competitor, and when you play quarterback in this league, you have to limit the mistakes, and you have to limit the bad games that you have, obviously,” said O’Brien. “We’re all in it together. We have to do a better job of coaching up some things with him a little bit better.”
Sunday obviously saw Jones turn the football over three times, with two of those resulting in points for the Cowboys as Dallas built a lead that was ultimately insurmountable.
O’Brien said that Jones needs to be more careful and do a better job of making decisions and that he’s clearly aware of that heading into this week.
“He’s got to do a better job of making good decisions for us. He knows that,” said O’Brien. “He takes a lot of ownership. You guys saw that, I think, after the game. He blames himself. The game wasn’t lost because of one guy. The game was lost on our part, because of how poorly we played and coached in the game. Mac is here today. He’s working very hard to get back on the right track, and we have a lot of belief in Mac.”
One interesting note from the press conference was the fact that O’Brien emphasized the things that he’ll be helping Jones work through, as well as the fact that Jones has also been taking the initiative in things he knows he has to work on.
Clearly, he knows that there’s a lot to be done, which goes beyond just Jones. Still, O’Brien has spent a fair amount of time looking at things they can improve on, which will include some areas to hopefully get more out of his quarterback.
At the same time, while O’Brien is certainly supporting him, he also noted that this work is going to ultimately need to yield results.
“Look, there’s nothing that we just say, ‘Ah, it was a bad day, we’re just moving on.’ We don’t do that,” he said. “We really examine what we’re doing, what we did in that game, what we can do better. Obviously, we take these losses very hard, and we want to try and improve as fast as we can.”
“I think that we can do a lot of things to help Mac’s decision-making. He can do things himself to be better, I’m sure he would tell you that, he’d be the first to tell you that. And so we’re going to work hard on that this week. ‘Here are some things that we’re going to help you with. Whether it’s mechanics, or where you’re eyes are, or what it is.’ And then he’s already talked about, ‘Hey, here’s some things I’m going to do’ and we’re going to be on the same page.”
“We’re very much in it together. Nobody’s pointing fingers, and we know we have a lot to improve on. We have to get it done, though.”
Patriots QB Third-Year Struggles
When it comes to Patriots quarterbacks having a tough time in their third seasons as a starter, it’s been a rough road for all of them in recent years.
The Patriots have only had three starters who have played more than one full consecutive season going back to 1993 when Drew Bledsoe was selected, with Tom Brady and Jones as the other two who fall into that category.
Here’s a quick look at how each one had faired through the first four games of their third season under center.
Mac Jones Through Four Games (2023)
93/146 (63.7%) 898yds 5 TDs 4 INTs 7 Sacks | Record (1-3)
*Lost one contest by 35 points
Tom Brady Through Four Games (2003)
84/135 (62.2%) 848yds 5 TDs 7 INTs 10 Sacks | Record (2-2)
*Lost one contest by 31 points
Drew Bledsoe Through Four Games (1995)
100/205 1,058yds 0 TDs 5 INTs 7 Sacks
*Lost one contest by 25 points
Brady is obviously the outlier, as he already had a Super Bowl championship on his resume. Not to mention the fact he ran off an incredible run that saw them not lose another game until October of the following season, winning every game for the rest of 2003 including the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, Bledsoe finished his 1995 season 6-10, albeit he suffered a separated shoulder on his non-throwing arm that hampered him for the rest of the year.
The hope now is that Jones can at least fall somewhere in the middle, with the ability to salvage the season still somewhat in reach.
Given how he played on Sunday, that feels like an uphill battle, but O’Brien believes we’ll see a turnaround from Jones moving forward.
“We’re going to work really hard this week to improve some things. But I thought that last game, for Mac, some of the decisions that he made were very uncharacteristic of Mac and I think he’ll get back to doing it the way he knows how to do it,” said O’Brien. “And he’s just trying to make a play, he’s wanting to win, he’s very competitive, and maybe the plays weren’t great so I have to be involved in that big time with him, I understand that. And I think you’ll see a lot of improvement in Mac as we keep moving forward here.”
Let’s hope that’s the case.
Posted Under: Patriots News