Mac Jones talks future as Patriots’ starting quarterback and more on WEEI

Patriots

“I really need to improve, obviously, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks out during an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts at Deutsche Bank Park Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.
Mac Jones’ status as New England’s QB1 is far from a guarantee. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones appeared on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego” show on Tuesday, touching on a variety of topics including his latest benching against the Colts on Sunday and his future as the team’s starting quarterback.

Here are a few highlights from Jones’ extended radio interview:

No clarity on QB1 position 

After yet another costly interception from Jones thwarted New England’s comeback bid against the Colts on Sunday, it remains to be seen if the third-year QB will throw another pass for the Patriots during the 2023 campaign.

Once Jones’ ill-advised throw off his back foot was plucked by Colts safety Julian Blackmon on the Indianapolis 2-yard line, Bill Belichick opted to bench Jones for the third time in 10 games this season — putting the ball in Bailey Zappe’s hands with under two minutes to go in regulation.

Since the Patriots returned from Germany following that 10-6 defeat, Belichick has remained mum about the current constitution of New England’s QB depth chart and whether or not Jones will remain as the team’s starter coming out of the bye week.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on this week as a team and we’ll work through those,” Belichick said Tuesday morning about Jones’ standing as QB1. “That’s what we’re going to do this week.”

Speaking to WEEI later on Tuesday, Jones noted that the Patriots haven’t informed him if he’s still the team’s starter.

“No, we haven’t talked about that,” Jones said. “Really, today we watched the game film and kind of talked about the plans for the bye week, so we have practice tomorrow. Just see how it goes there and the bye week is a great time to work on things that you can do better, so, that’s what I’m going to do. ”

The Patriots are expected to practice on Wednesday before getting the next four days off during their bye week. Their next game is set for the following Sunday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium — a game that could have major ramifications for both teams and their pursuit of a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

As for when Jones expects to hear from the Patriots about his standing as the team’s starter?

“Um — I really am not focusing on that and really just focusing on things I can control,” Jones said. “I’ve always done that. I really need to improve, obviously, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

A critical lens

Plenty of factors have contributed to New England’s 2-8 start to the 2023 season. A porous O-line, lack of elite playmakers on offense, injuries to critical contributors on defense, and years of poor drafting and lopsided roster construction from Belichick have planted the Patriots in the basement of the AFC.

But Jones’ own lapses in execution and poor decision-making have sapped several touchdowns away from an already lackluster offensive unit. Through 10 games this season, Jones has completed 65.4 percent of his passes, but has only thrown 10 touchdowns and has been knocked for 10 interceptions.

Only Buffalo’s Josh Allen has thrown more picks so far in 2023.

“I think everyone’s frustrated,” Jones acknowledged. “And obviously I am too. And there’s a lot of things that I wish I could do better. And I’ve kind of identified those things. And that’s where it all starts.

“And I know I’m going to put the work in to do it and get the momentum moving in the right direction. So obviously that’s a big picture — kind of what you laid out there. But at the end of the day, I have to focus on the small picture and figure out what I can do better.”

It’s been a stark drop-off for Jones in just the span of a few seasons. The former Alabama signal-caller took home Pro Bowl honors as a rookie in 2021, offering up hope that New England can retool on the fly in the post-Brady era.

But after trudging through a lost season in 2022 during Matt Patricia’s short tenure as offensive play-caller, the results have only managed to get worse for Jones in his third NFL campaign.

“I think my confidence comes from my discipline and all the things I’ve done throughout the years just to gain that,” Jones said when asked if his belief in himself is waning following another benching. “And of course at times as an athlete, that’s going to be challenged. But at the end of the day, I need to have confidence in myself.

“That’s like the root of the word, right? It’s confidence, it’s belief in yourself and others. So that’s kind of what I know about confidence. And that comes from putting the work in and being prepared. So I do both of those things. And I need to continue to be confident.”

Bill O’Brien’s wrath

One of the most damning sights during New England’s loss to Indy was Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien losing it on the sidelines while running through a play with Jones.

O’Brien’s tirade came halfway through the third quarter during Sunday’s showdown at Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany. During a third-down play, Jones missed a read and instead tried to send a shovel pass over to Rhamondre Stevenson. Not only was Stevenson not in a position to corral the throw, the pass easily could have been intercepted for a potential pick-six. 

Speaking on WEEI, Jones said that he still has a great relationship with O’Brien.

“It’s good,” Jones said. “I always have had coaches who expect a lot of their players and I love that so there’s a good relationship there and I have no issues with him.”

Odds and ends 

Jones confirmed that he did receive X-rays following New England’s loss to the Colts, but said it was nothing serious. “I think in a game there’s things that pop up but like I said, there’s nothing serious that caused any issues,” Jones noted.

As for Jones’ relationship with Robert Kraft ahead of what stands to be an offseason for change for New England?

“I have a great relationship with Mr. Kraft and I have a lot of respect for him and his family and what they’ve built here with the Patriots,” Jones said. “I want nothing more than to try and get this thing back on the right track for them and for the Patriots and the fans and everybody. So I have a lot of respect for them, what they’ve built and I need to do a better job of being the quarterback of the team.”


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