How Mac Jones, Other Patriots Explained Offense’s Ugly Camp Struggles

'We gotta get it going'


Aug 2, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s no sugarcoating it: The Patriots offense has been awful during training camp, with the exception of Day 1.

Mac Jones and company usually look functional during 7-on-7 drills. But once more players get on the field for 11-on-11s and there’s at least an appearance of a pass rush, everything falls apart. That’s been especially true the last two days, with the offense routinely going nowhere against New England’s defense.

It was particularly ugly Monday, when an 11-on-11 period dedicated to running and short passes resulted in an interception, a false start, an overthrow and at least four stuffed runs. Any improvements seen Tuesday were marginal at best, as Jones routinely was pressured and had little time to throw. One positive: Jones avoided throwing an interception for the fourth straight practice.

“I think our offensive line’s doing a great job, we just have to get on the same page,” Jones said after Tuesday’s practice.

Reporters at Saturday’s practice noticed Jones appearing visibly frustrated as he exited the field after a rough finish to practice. He was asked it about it Tuesday.

“I care a lot about football, I think we all do,” Jones said. “It’s very competitive, and when we lose the day, to me, that’s like a shot in the heart — it’s like we lost a game.”

So, what’s going on?

Well, it’s a variety of things, and it still is too early in camp to make any grand proclamations. But one thing seems clear: The changes made to the offense this offseason go beyond mere streamlining and terminology tweaks — as Bill Belichick claimed during the spring. From Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay-esque boots, outside zone runs and play-action to a general increase in pre-snap motion, the Patriots’ offense looks different than it did under Josh McDaniels.

Consequently, Jones and his teammates are working through a transition.

“We’re all just trying to learn and figure it out,” he said. ” … At the end of the day, it’s the players’ job to execute the plays that the coaches want, and they’ve done a good job explaining each play.”

“I feel like we can compete even more and even better, but a lot of it is just execution and the X’s and O’s and figuring out how to communicate with each other. Better days ahead, but, you know, we’re in the start of this thing but we gotta get it going.”

Jones added: “Just getting my feet wet in the offense and trying different things.”

Receive Nelson Agholor, who made multiple impressive plays Tuesday, is optimistic that things will turn around soon. And he, like Jones, seemingly believes the struggles are more of a reflection of the players than the coaches.

“Some of it’s different,” Agholor said of the offense. “I think that (coaches) are doing a good job of trying to get offensive players in position, and we’re taking the cuts that come our way and we’re looking at the defense, and we’re making adjustments for man or zone.

“And they do a good job. I think these coaches have been around the game of football for so long that they understand it. It’s just our job to execute what they call.”

Still, it’s fair to debate that notion. Gone is McDaniels, and in his place is some combination of Belichick, Matt Patricia and maybe Joe Judge. The Dan Orlovskys of the world likely won’t be surprised to hear that New England’s offense has looked disjointed.

“We have great coaches that’ll get us there,” Jones insisted Tuesday. “I think, right now, it’s more about the communication of getting there, and we need to just grow a little more here and kind of pick up the pace a little bit.”

He added: “Every problem has a solution. Some of the plays that we’re running, we’re going out there and seeing what it looks like first and then trying to figure it out. … It’s really not rocket science.”

No, it’s not rocket science, but the Patriots’ problems also aren’t going to solve themselves — and they need to be fixed in a hurry.’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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