It’s clear that the Patriots didn’t practice well last week, but just how accurate were Mac Jones’ remarks after losing to the Indianapolis Colts? And, perhaps more importantly, how were they received inside New England’s locker room?
It’s hard to tell.
Following Saturday’s defeat in Indianapolis, Jones said the following:
“I just don’t think it was our best effort. It starts with me, just throughout the week, we didn’t have a great practice every day. So, it is what it is. You just have to move on and keep your head high. … I just think we, starting with me, just the energy was kind of low. Maybe, like, feeling a little sorry for ourselves ’cause, you know, whatever, we come off the bye and stuff. Not to get into details, but we just didn’t practice well.
“And that just reflects how we played. I didn’t practice good. I know a lot of guys on our team felt the same way. So, we have to come to work every day and just be positive. And it’s one game, it’s not the end of the world.”
Bill Belichick on Monday was asked about the remarks and offered a mostly straightforward response, while seemingly co-signing Jones’ take.
“Just execution, concentration, things that we just didn’t do well enough,” Belichick said during a WEEI interview. “I mean, it wasn’t one thing, or one person, or whatever, just general level of execution in practice.”
The story seemingly ended there.
However, former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson on Monday night slammed Jones, saying among other things, “You’re a rookie — keep your mouth shut.”
Then, during a Tuesday video conference, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels offered comments that are hard to get a read on.
“Each week’s different,” McDaniels said. “And I’m not gonna — some people see things differently. And, again, there’s always things in practice that we don’t do well. That’s why we practice. The teams that you play present challenges — many times unique challenges to them — that are not always easy to acclimate to. And, so, sometimes it takes a little longer to come together during the course of a game week.
“I never try to judge one day of practice, or one week of practice, and give it a grade or anything like that. We’re always working to try to do better; we’re always trying to work to the solution of every problem that the defense presents to us. I always feel like we can practice better than what we did because I don’t think I’ve ever been around a perfect practice.”
On Jones, McDaniels added: “He’s always very critical of his own performance and encouraging of his teammates. And, so, he knows that his teammates are going to try to fix the things that they did wrong. He’s not focused on that; he’s focused on himself and how to improve because he knows that if he improves, it’ll help our team.”
So, perhaps Jones’ remarks weren’t universally received one way or another. But if that’s the case, where’s the disconnect?
Well, it might come down to the vague “feeling a little sorry for ourselves” comment. That part certainly mystified Johnson.
“I was really surprised to hear him say that (Patriots players) were feeling sorry for (themselves),” Johnson said on NBC Sports Boston. “About what? You just came off a bye week. Is it because you played on a Monday night and then you had to play on a Saturday night? Get over it, boys. It’s ring-chasing time now.”
Then, during Tuesday’s episode of 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Felger & Mazz,” Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal shared insights after speaking with Patriots sources.
“I asked people around the team, like, ‘What was this?’ And, first of all, not many of them had heard the quote,” Bedard said. ” … When I read it to them, they were just like, ‘What?’
“And, really, they think it’s, look, it’s Mac Jones, being at the podium is not his realm and he’s more worried about just getting off and not getting in trouble than anything. So, internally, it seems like they don’t pay it any mind.”
If nothing else, this might be a learning experience for Jones. Criticizing teammates, even if you also criticize yourself, might bother some people. It’s also possible we’re reading way too much into this.
Ultimately, Jones clearly has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches, due to his leadership, work ethic and on-field performance. All that matters now is how he and the Patriots respond as they prepare for the most important game of their season.