The New England Patriots’ offensive line certainly isn’t doing rookie quarterback Mac Jones any favors through three weeks of the 2021 NFL season.
Jones again found himself heavily pressured Sunday as the Patriots fell to the New Orleans Saints 28-13 at Gillette Stadium, a loss that dropped New England’s record to 1-2 with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming to Foxboro in Week 4.
The steady heat resulted in just two New Orleans sacks, and the Patriots, to their credit, protected Jones better in the second half after a first half in which the QB was hit seven times by seven different Saints defenders. But it still was a disappointing effort by New England’s O-line, especially since the unit was supposed to be a strength this season.
Fortunately, Jones avoided injury and walked away from his third career NFL start unscathed.
“My body feels good,” Jones told reporters after the game when asked about the punishment he took Sunday. “Obviously, it wasn’t our day. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to.”
Jones completed 30 of 51 passes for 270 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The first INT was the direct result of pressure, as P.J. Williams picked off Jones in the second quarter on a play in which the quarterback was hit as he threw.
There was an interesting moment in the fourth quarter when Jones removed the knee brace he had been wearing since the preseason, only to turn around and deliver a touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne as the Patriots tried to rally. But that evidently was the product of circumstance more than anything.
“On the knee brace, I just slid and it kind of came loose, so I just took it off,” Jones explained.
Nevertheless, the Patriots’ offensive line — which has been dealing with the absence of right tackle Trent Brown since Week 1 — desperately needs to improve in the coming weeks, or else Jones’ body might not feel “good” for much longer.