Jones completed 22-of-32 passes for 321 yards and no touchdowns in Sunday’s 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium, but he threw three costly interceptions that casted a dark cloud over his outing.
Mike Lombardi, who was an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff from 2014-16 and now hosts the “GM Shuffle” podcast with Femi Abebefe, couldn’t get the mistakes Jones made out of his head. Lombardi believes if the miscues from the second-year signal caller continue then Jones, who has thrown five picks in three games, might be put on the bench.
“New England is not doing anything they stand for,” Lombardi said on the latest show of his podcast, as transcribed by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “They want to avoid losing before they win. As much as I like Mac Jones, I thought Mac Jones would protect the ball and play smarter than he’s played. Now he’s hurt with the high ankle (sprain). To me, he was in danger of either changing what he did, or he is going to lose his job. You’re not going to play in the NFL if you keep turning the ball over the way he was.”
Lombardi did see positives out of Jones, but kept on harping upon the turnovers.
“I would disagree with your line saying (Jones) doesn’t look good. I think he looks good other than he’s making stupid mistakes,” Lombardi continued. “And he’s not good enough to overcome bad mistakes. Part of the allure for me with Mac Jones is that he was going to be a smart player. Protect the football at all costs. But he’s playing out of control. What does he think he is? He’s throwing the ball up for grabs. Seriously. You’re not overly skilled, so when you’re not overly skilled, you have to make up for it with good decisions, good placement. You can’t hurt your team like he’s been hurting his team.”
Lombardi then laid off of Jones and attacked the Patriots as a whole. They had four turnovers against the Ravens as Nelson Agholor coughed up a fumble in the final frame to go along with Jones’ interceptions.
And it’s very clear who Lombardi places the blame on for New England’s turnover-filled and sluggish start to the season.
“I’ve never seen a New England team like this,” Lombardi said. “This is so anti-Belichick. It’s so not who they are in that building. They just haven’t been themselves. And you can say, ‘Well they don’t have an offensive coordinator.’ It’s not the plays. It’s the mistakes they’re making in the game. You can blame it on the coaches all you want. I think that’s pretty naïve if you want to do that.
“Think about it. They’ve had eight turnovers in three games. It’s not just interceptions, it’s fumbles, too. They’re not protecting the football.”