Remember when photos of a shredded Mac Jones circulated before the season? Patriots fans were so hyped by the Mac-churian Candidate’s transformation that they gave him a standing ovation the first time he ran out on the field in training camp.
Coming off of a strong-ish rookie season, throwing for 3,800 yards and 22 TDs while leading New England to a 10-7 record, the hope was Jones could make a leap to a level above game manager, or at the very least, be the same level game manager.
Yeah, about that.
Not only is he worse than last year, but his production has been as bad as Zach Wilson, the standard for shitty quarterbacks this season. After seven games each, Wilson has four passing TDs to five picks, and Jones’ TD-INT ratio is four to seven. Mac has better yardage outputs, but not by much — 1,386 yards to 1,279 on the season, good for 198 and 182 yards per outing respectively.
There’s a reason Bill Belichick pulled Jones for Bailey Zappe in a high-profile Monday night loss to the Bears last month. However, the blame doesn’t fall on the quarterback. It’s on the head coach.
This is what an offense looks like when it doesn’t have a coordinator/is entrusted to two coaches who I wouldn’t let pour a bowl of cereal. I even wrote as much when it became apparent that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge were going to be responsible for Jones’, umm, growth:
“I’m not sure Joe Judge and Matt Patricia could fit a loveseat through a double door if they were the two men who arrived with your moving truck in the greater Boston area. The two colossal failures as NFL head coaches were a combined 23-52-1 in nearly five seasons with their respective teams. If you ask a Giants fan about Judge, or a Lions fan about Patricia, their response is going to be largely negative — and that’s if they utter actual words and not just give a thumbs down and make a fart noise.
“So, it’s a wonder why Bill Belichick has entrusted the development of Mac Jones to tweedle dee and tweedle idiot. The reports out of Patriots camp are of a frustrated, overwhelmed, soul-searching offense, one requiring motivational speeches and a designated play caller.”
My material may be recycled, but my jokes remain accurate. Coincidentally enough, accuracy — specifically completion percentage — is what Pats’ loyalists will point to as a sign that Jones has actually improved this year.
Alright. Well, watch this montage of Mac’s completions against the Jets last week, and tell me which throw isn’t safe.
Perhaps the segment of my Patricia-Judge rant that would’ve been more enlightening was the bit about the endless procession of screen passes that was the Giants’ game plan under Judge.
Even though Patricia is calling the plays, the agreed-upon approach to the offense can at best be described as “creatively conservative” — and the biggest case of “helicopter coaching” I’ve ever seen at worst.
Yes, Jones is hitting his receivers almost 70 percent of the time. That said, pretty much every advanced metric illustrates a quarterback who’s either petrified of making a mistake/getting benched, or being coddled like he can’t throw more than 15 yards downfield.
Jones’ average air yards per completion is 5.4. That means the ball travels an average of 5.4 yards past the line of scrimmage per completion. In his final year when he could barely hit a receiver more than 10 yards deep, Drew Brees had a CAY/Cmp of 5.3. For context, Patrick Mahomes has a 6.1 this season, and usually lives in the sixes for his career. The NFL’s leading passer Tua Tagovailoa has an 8.3, which is fucking ridiculous and a great example of a coach having faith in his QB.
It helps to have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but if Mike McDaniel’s offense is on the cutting edge of innovation, the Pats are still reliant on AOL to tell them if they have mail. The thing that stood out to me in those Jones-Jets highlights — and I use “stood out” liberally — is that Rhamondre Stevenson can’t be tackled by one man.
I understand wanting to lean on a running back like that, and Damien Harris is a great second option in the backfield. Yet New England is still 17th in rushing per game while clocking in at bottom 10 in total offense and passing yards, and bottom 13 in scoring. If you want to talk about an offensive line that’s allowed 28 sacks, which is bottom 10 in the league, or discuss the overpaid skill guys at receiver and tight end, I’ll listen.
What I will not entertain is this massive regression at quarterback being all on Jones. Belichick has earned the right to be arrogant. When you’ve won as much as him, you get the benefit of the doubt.
Not this time. This situation is further compounded when you read that Belichick passed over a promising assistant — the only one who he wouldn’t let other teams interview during the offseason — in Nick Caley to give the reins to Judge Joe Patricia. And that Caley didn’t sign an extension likely due to the snub, it’s even more of a disaster that could have already been categorized as unmitigated.