How Patriots Coach Feels About Mac Jones Taking Too Many Sacks

'We've just gotta be smart with the ball'

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November 27, 2022

In many ways, Thursday night’s 33-26 road loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a season-best effort from Mac Jones and the Patriots offense.

Jones compiled a career-high 382 yards while throwing two touchdowns and making zero turnover-worthy plays. New England also finally got tight end Hunter Henry involved and receiver DeVante Parker returned to being a dangerous downfield threat. Even the offensive line turned in an encouraging performance.

But the game also saw the continuation of multiple troubling trends from the Patriots offense, including Jones’ alarming propensity for taking sacks in pivotal moments.

The sophomore quarterback took three of them in the disappointing loss, and you could argue two were his fault. Jones now has been sacked 24 times this season, which ties him for 11th-most in the NFL despite missing three full games and sitting out three quarters in another. His 9.3 sack percentage ranks as the fifth-worst in the league.

Here’s another way to look at it: Jones is averaging three sacks per game. If he hadn’t gotten injured and had maintained those averages from Weeks 4 through 7, he currently would have 36 sacks — second-most in the NFL.

Most of the sacks haven’t been Jones’ fault. A quarterback only can do so much behind wretched offensive line play. However, too often this season Jones has taken a sack instead of throwing the ball away or hitting an open receiver.

During a Saturday morning Zoom call, Patriots offensive play-caller Matt Patricia was asked about the coaching points for Jones in those situations.

“I think it’s some good coaching points that we talk about all the time on particular plays,” Patricia said. “Not every play you’re gonna want to (throw the ball away). There’s some things that … depending on the routes that are being run — whether they’re deeper patterns or shorter patterns or intermediates, play-action, thinks like that — some of the decision-making for the quarterback in those situations, where if there is pressure, it’s going to be get rid of the ball and make sure we are able to play the next down and not put ourselves in a bad position by taking a negative play.

“And those are smart football plays at certain points in the game that are good. Obviously, we don’t wanna do that, we’re trying to get completions. We’re trying to keep the ball moving forward. But, sometimes in those situations if we’re trying to take a shot, we’re trying to move the ball in a particular manner, and it just happens to be taken away from us, then we’ve just gotta be smart with the ball all the way across the board.”

New England won’t go anywhere this season if Jones continues taking sacks at his current rate. He, the coaching staff and the offensive line must do a better job of finding ways to keep the offense from going backward, especially in the red zone.

The Patriots will look for a more consistent effort Thursday night when they host the Buffalo Bills.

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Thumbnail photo via Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports Images
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