GLENDALE, Ariz. — Though the in-game F-bombs suggested otherwise, Mac Jones insisted after Monday night’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals that he is not unhappy with the current state of the Patriots’ offense.
Asked after New England’s 27-13 win at State Farm Stadium whether he’s frustrated with his team’s Matt Patricia-led offense, Jones flatly replied: “No.”
Jones went on to offer a public endorsement of Patricia, the Patriots’ much-maligned offensive play-caller.
“I think the biggest thing for me is not letting it affect my play and bringing the best out of my guys,” Jones said. “(On Monday), I thought we all did a good job with trying to play the next play, play the next series, and Matty P did a great job. He’s trying to call the game so that we can win, and sometimes, it might be this thing that people don’t know about, like the quick passes for whatever reason, and that’s our game plan.”
New England’s offensive plan against Arizona was heavily reliant on short passes, especially screens. Fifteen of Jones’ 35 pass attempts were to targets at or behind the line of scrimmage. Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph predicted this approach from Patricia, saying the former longtime Patriots DC calls offensive plays “like a defensive guy.”
ESPN’s game broadcast showed Jones emphatically cursing after multiple negative plays — a pre-snap issue that forced New England to waste a timeout early in the second half and a red-zone throwaway under pressure. These came one week after the second-year quarterback profanely called for more downfield passes during an ugly loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Jones lamented in an on-field interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters that the Patriots were “too flat” at times on Monday. But he was seen smiling and hugging Patricia after a late touchdown by rookie running back Pierre Strong that gave New England a commanding 14-point lead. The win marked just the second time in the last six games that the Patriots scored multiple offensive touchdowns.
“We knew that’s what we had to do to win, and he called a great game and stayed calm,” Jones said. “Matty P’s a very calm person, very stoic. We’re just going to continue to grow together and do what we can to win games.”
The Patriots played Monday’s game with a backup right tackle in Conor McDermott, who was starting in place of the injured Isaiah Wynn. They also were shorthanded at wide receiver with Jakobi Meyers (concussion) inactive and DeVante Parker knocked out of the game with a head injury during the first quarter. Top running back Rhamondre Stevenson also exited with an early ankle injury.
Head coach Bill Belichick was asked whether the heavy emphasis on screen passes was a result of the Patriots’ offensive injuries or a part of a predetermined plan to attack Arizona’s defense.
“I mean, we hit Hunter on a couple seams,” Belichick said, referring to Jones’ two 30-plus-yard completions to tight end Hunter Henry. “It depends on what the pattern was we had called and what the coverage was, and I think Mac made a lot of good decisions. He got hit on the deep ball that was (intercepted). So, yeah, I don’t know.”
Jones went 24-for-35 for 235 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, and his two longest completions were the downfield strikes to Henry. Both came on plays the Patriots have seldom utilized this season but generally have yielded positive results. Henry finished with three catches on three targets for a team-high 70 yards in the win.
“Hunter just has a great feel for the game,” Jones said. He just wants to help the team any way he can, and same thing with (fellow tight end) Jonnu (Smith). I love those guys, and they’re going to continue to grow, hopefully, their roles and all that. When they’re on the field together, they’re really good, so I definitely want to expand on that and do those things.”
The 7-6 Patriots will visit Josh McDaniels and the 5-8 Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.