‘I’ve got to play better’: Mac Jones takes accountability following Patriots’ loss to Colts


Jones threw a back-breaking interception on the Patriots’ penultimate drive, causing him to be benched for the third time this season.

Mac Jones admitted to playing poorly in the Patriots’ loss to the Colts. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Mac Jones found himself on the bench for the third time this season in the Patriots’ 10-6 loss to the Colts, leading to further questions about his future in New England.

Bailey Zappe’s number was called upon for the Patriots’ final drive after they got the ball back at their own 14-yard line. The second-year quarterback wasn’t able to pull through, throwing an interception that sealed the game. But unlike the other two times Jones was benched, Bill Belichick didn’t infer that Jones would be starting at quarterback in the Patriots’ next game, saying he’d deal with the situation “next week.”

When asked if he felt that Belichick still had belief in him, Jones said that he needs to do more in order for others to believe in him, before saying he was unsure how his coach felt.

“At the end of the day, I’ve got to play better,” Jones told reporters. “So, to make people believe, you’ve got to be better. I’m not sure. I don’t know.”

The Patriots’ decision to pull Jones came much later Sunday than it did the previous two times. Jones played a relatively clean game for much of the day, completing 15 of 19 passes for 170 yards with no touchdowns but no turnovers, either.

Right as the Patriots looked like they were finally going to reach the end zone, though, Jones made a monumental gaffe. On second-and-12 from the Colts’ 15-yard line, with just over four minutes remaining, it appeared that Jones was about to have Mike Gesicki wide open in the end zone to take the lead.

But Jones underthrew the tight end by several yards, throwing the ball right to Colts safety Julian Blackmon for Jones’s league-leading 10th interception of the season.

Jones took full accountability for the play.

“It was a terrible throw,” Jones said. “Practiced it, hit it in practice, snugged the throw, and I knew where to go. I just didn’t do it. Didn’t do it right.”

Jones told reporters after the game that he “got a little bruised,” but said that he was “good.” However, he seemed to imply that something might have been bother him when asked if the mistake was a mechanical issue.

“Yeah. There were some things I was working through,” Jones said. “But it doesn’t matter. No excuses.”

Jones learned shortly after that his day was done, saying the coaching staff just simply said he “was out of the game.” Jones said he “was playing very good,” either, seemingly understanding the coaching staff’s decision.

“It’s hard, right? It’s a difficult situation,” Jones said when asked what his reaction was to being pulled. “At the end of the day, I really did want the team to win. I’ll always be that person. I know that we didn’t win, so it’s hard for everybody.

“I have to play better and not even be in that situation. It’s not ideal for anybody. No one is going to do good in that situation.”

Even though the interception was Jones’s first major blunder Sunday, the coaching staff didn’t seem to be too happy with him at least one other time. New England wasn’t able to turn Myles Bryant’s interception at midfield into a touchdown at the start of the second half, with Jones lobbing the ball to Rhamondre Stevenson as he was being taken down on a third-down play.

Jones got the ball off just in time to not be sacked, though the ill-advised throw saved him from being sacked for the sixth time on the day and for the fifth time on a third-down play. As he returned to the sideline, the NFL Network broadcast showed offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien berating him while the two were going over a play.

Jones gave some insight on what O’Brien was telling him before taking accountability for his mistakes.

“Just try to go through my reads and hit the open guy,” Jones said on what O’Brien was telling him. “I’ve got to do a better job at that. It’s really hard in the NFL. It’s really good defense, but there were a lot of open guys out there that I could’ve hit.”

The Patriots will enter their Week 11 bye still sitting in last place in the AFC with a 2-8 record after Sunday. Jones said that he still has belief in himself, acknowledging that he has things he’s “got to fix and learn” as he’s thrown for 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with the 10 picks this season.

As Jones said he’ll “use the bye week to evaluate myself, the team, and everything I can do better,” though there seems to be a possibility that Jones threw his final pass with the Patriots on Sunday. Even as he still has belief in himself, Jones knows that Sunday’s loss and benching felt “a little bit” different from the other ones this season.

“Just like I said, didn’t play very well,” Jones said. “I’ve played well in my career before, but just not right now. It’s peaks and valleys, but I’m kind of in a valley right now and just got to bounce back.”