FOXBORO, Mass. — The sight of Mac Jones screaming or animatedly gesturing, either on the field or on the sideline, has become commonplace as this New England Patriots season devolves.
It’s happened after negative plays or failed series in several games this season, including each of the last three — losses to the Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders bookending an uneven win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Jones’ on-field displays of frustration have become a symbol for the Patriots’ persistent offensive problems. But the quarterback has, on multiple occasions, stood by them.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Jones said his often-profane outbursts are simply a product of his competitiveness — and desire to fix what’s ailing his offense.
“I think it’s a big part of the game, playing with passion and emotion,” Jones said. “I think the best players on every team do that. You can’t let it affect your next play, that’s the biggest thing. Which it hasn’t. It’s all about fixing the things that pop up in a game, right? So sometimes when they’re reoccurring, we just want to fix them and move on to the next play. That’s something that definitely — that’s who I am and that’s how I’ve always been.
“I want to just be a great teammate however I can be and be a leader too. You want to show positivity, as well. When we do things well, I try to do that. We want to do more things well and try to fix the things that we’re working through. That’s all you can do. It’s a game. It shows that you care. I think we have guys that care on our team. I definitely care. So that’s important to me.”
Whether Jones’ emotion is affecting his play is up for debate. He had his worst game as a pro in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, missing several open receivers and seemingly mismanaging the offense on a fourth-and-goal false start. He completed just 41.9% of his passes and averaged 3.6 yards per attempt against arguably the NFL’s worst pass defense.
Many of Jones’ reactions seemingly have been directed at Matt Patricia, who’s struggled to engender offensive consistency as a first-time play-caller. Others have been toward teammates. Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge both said last week that they love the passion Jones shows on the field.
“I think the biggest thing is just cleaning up the details and the nitty-gritty, right?” Jones said. “That?s what I always call them, the nitty-gritty goals of just trying to get everything to where we?re all operating on the same page. That can apply in football, that can apply in life, just cleaning up every little detail, so that when you get to game day, we have that stuff figured out.
“We have all that stuff planned out. We’ve done that at times, and we just want to improve that as an offense. For me as a quarterback, how can I be ready for any situation that pops up? I’m going to show emotion and be passionate about this game because I love this game, and I know my teammates respect that about me. The biggest thing is playing the next play and playing for each other.”
Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater last week said he and fellow longtime captain Devin McCourty encouraged Jones to be more vocal with his leadership this season, and that the veterans have been pleased with the way he’s accepted their challenge.
But does Jones ever worry that he might be showing up the Patriots’ coaching staff with the way he’s been acting on the field? That yelling about the need for more downfield passes, waving off Patricia or motioning for him to hurry up his play call might not yield the desired results?
“It’s not really about that,” Jones replied. “I think it’s more, like I said, the sense of urgency for just doing everything on time and in control and that?s something we preach here, from the coaches, from the players, from the whole staff is just trying to do everything right. At the end of the day, that?s what?s important is doing the right thing and getting to that point and holding everybody to that standard.
“As a quarterback, I can do a lot of things better, too. It always comes back to the quarterback, right? At the end of the day. I understand what position I’m in, and I want to just help the team win and that’s what I?ll do. I’ll always do that and just try and compete every day and just try and win.”
Lately, wins have been hard to come by for Jones and the Patriots. With an ineffective offense dragging down a top-tier defense, they’ve dropped three of their last four games to slide out of the AFC playoff picture and must win at least two of their last three to have any shot at qualifying for the postseason.
Next up: a Christmas Eve matchup with the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals this Saturday at Gillette Stadium.