Patriots QB Mac Jones appeared on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego” show on Monday evening, touching on a variety of topics such as his Week 1 performance against the Eagles, Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium and much more.
Here are a few highlights from Jones’ extended radio interview:
Jones assesses Week 1 performance
In the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Eagles, Jones strode up to the podium at Gillette Stadium and shouldered most of the blame for New England’s Week 1 defeat.
“They gave me the ball twice to win the game, and I couldn’t do it,” Jones said postgame. “I’ve just got to go back and watch and see what I can do better, but as a quarterback, that hurts, right? You get a chance to win the game twice and can’t do it. You’ve just got to learn from it. You only get so many opportunities in the NFL to do that, and I felt like I definitely let the team down.”
It was a brutal start for Jones on a rainy Foxborough field, with New England’s first drive ending on a high throw from the Patriots QB. Kendrick Bourne was unable to reel in the catch, with the ball bouncing off his hands before Eagles CB Darius Slay reeled it in en route to a 70-yard, pick-six play.
Jones also took himself to task in the fourth quarter, with New England unable to orchestrate a game-winning drive in the closing minutes after the Patriots’ defense forced two turnovers off a fumble recovery and a fourth-down stop.
Still, Jones’ final stat line on Sunday showed that he was far from a detriment to his team in what was ultimately a competitive game.
Jones finished 35-of-54 for 316 passing yards, throwing for three touchdowns and one interception. It was the first time in his NFL career that he recorded both three TDs and surpassed 300 passing yards in the same game.
Speaking on WEEI Monday, Jones acknowledged that there were a few more positives to draw from Week 1 upon further review, even if the result remained the same.
“We definitely watched the film and I learned a lot from watching it,” Jones said. “And as they always say, never as bad or never as good as you think. But you know, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is winning.”
The costly interception looms large in what was a five-point game, but Jones admitted that New England’s improved play as Sunday’s game went on offers hope for more consistency in the upcoming weeks.
Once trailing 16-0 at the end of the first quarter, Jones and the Patriots rattled off 14 unanswered points in the following frame off of touchdown throws to Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne.
“Really just stay with the course and kind of run the system that we have,” Jones said of New England’s second-quarter adjustments. “I think there’s answers in the system. It wasn’t like there were breakdowns in the system. We just kind of follow your rules and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
“But when you have a system in place that you know, ‘Alright, this is where I’m supposed to look, here’s where I start,’ eventually you’re gonna get rolling. And from there, you just have to continue. But opening day … it’s always gonna be a little sloppy in the beginning and then you kind of figure it out. So definitely learned a lot there just to try and weather the storm — literally, I guess, too, it was raining as well.”
The doctor is in with Bill Belichick
Despite Jones’ harsh assessment of his play against Philadelphia, his head coach Bill Belichick offered some words of encouragement during his address to the media on Monday morning.
“Well, look, I think everybody did a lot of good things in the game,” Belichick said. “And I’m sure everybody feels the same way that Mac does, that if we had all done one or two things a little bit better, it could’ve made a difference.”
“So, I’m sure everybody feels the same way that Mac does,” Belichick continued. “Every player and coach that participated in the game. That said, there were a lot of – there were positives in the game that we have to build on, but in the end, any of us could have helped a little bit more, and it might have made a difference. I think we all know how Mac feels. We all feel the same way.”
Combing through film stands as an expected post-game exercise for all players in the NFL. But with Belichick, Jones values his coach’s ability to break down plays and sequences from various perspectives across the football field.
“Definitely learned a lot from him,” Jones said of Belichick. “He’s great at what he does. Explaining the defensive side is what I always take away from it as well, because you’re not going to get a better source of knowledge than him. He knows everything about defense and offense and special teams. So you kind of get the full picture. It’s like a doctor who can do every type of medicine. So it’s pretty cool.”
Staying off the turf
Many Patriots fans expected the worst on Sunday as soon as New England’s inactives list dropped.
The Patriots were already going to have their hands full with an Eagles pass rush that led the NFL with 70.0 sacks last season. But the task of keeping Jones off the turf became even more daunting after starting guards in Mike Onwenu (ankle) and Cole Strange (knee) were ruled out of Sunday’s game.
New England slotted in rookies Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi at those two vacancies at guard, while veteran Calvin Anderson started at right tackle despite missing all of training camp and preseason action due to a non-football illness.
Despite the Patriots’ shorthanded personnel on the O-line, New England’s shortcomings on Sunday had little to do with pass protection.
Philadelphia only recorded two sacks against Jones, both of which came in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
“It was really good. I mean, the two sacks I took were my fault,” Jones said of the offensive line. “So really, we had no sacks and I felt like they did a great job all week practicing that way and they just gotta keep it up, right? Just continue to chase that standard that we try to set.”
The Patriots will further benefit when both Strange and Onwenu return, especially in terms of bolstering a run game that averaged just 3.5 yards per rush attempt against Philly.
Still, Jones was impressed by the play of an offensive line that threw two rookies into critical roles in their NFL debuts.
“I feel like, at the end of the day, I have confidence in everybody, I really do, because of the standard that people are trying to set in each room,” Jones said. “And those guys — rookies on both sides of the ball — and young players played really well.
“And for the older guys who haven’t played football in a couple of months, just trying to get back into rhythm and get into a flow. But I feel like we did as the game went on and just tried to learn from it.”
Sunday also marked Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium, with the legendary QB honored during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Robert Kraft announced that Brady will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at Gillette Stadium on June 12, 2024.
“I thought yesterday was awesome for him and his family,” Jones said of Brady’s return. “That was cool to see. Just what he’s done for this organization and all the games he’s won. Bummed we couldn’t pull it out for him but definitely felt like it was a good day for him and his family. And I’m sure there was a lot of emotion and stuff involved. But I feel like he did a great job.”
Despite some positive gains made on offense and a stout showing on defense, Jones and the Patriots aren’t falling back on moral victories in a game where they came up short in a one-score game.
“You have to look at all the games that we’ve played the past couple of years,” Jones said. “A lot of them have been one-score games. So just trying to improve on that. And sometimes it’s out of your control, but really just trying to get better. We’ve been working on it, it’s gonna go our way, eventually. Just have to kind of not pay attention to the noise and just continue to work.”
But with a key divisional matchup against the Dolphins set for Sunday night in Foxborough, Jones still has plenty of confidence in this Patriots roster to start flipping the outcome of these close games.
“I think we have a good group, got good coaches, got a great defense, great special teams, and just got to go out there and really just put more points on the board and just continue to work,” Jones said. “I mean, that’s all you can do.
“And I know, like I said, we’re working together. Everyone’s talking in there, trying to get better. We got old guys, chiming in, young guys chiming in. So everyone’s working together. That’s the important part.”
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