Breaking down Mac Jones’ performance on the defense’s big day against the Jets

Breaking down Mac Jones’ performance on the defense’s big day against the Jets

The Patriots quarterback situation has taken a few unexpected turns with two games over the last six days.

After Monday night’s unorthodox quarterback group, the Patriots returned to normal by sticking with starter Mac Jones throughout a 22-17 win against the Jets at the Meadowlands. While a division road win is always nice, there are still more questions than answers about Jones and the offense moving forward. And in the long run, there will be an ongoing debate about whether Mac is a franchise quarterback.

To use an old football trope, is Jones a truck or a trailer? A truck can tow or carry a team to win, while a trailer is just for the ride.

At this stage, 22 starts in Mac’s career is yet to be determined. We’ve learned that, like most second-year quarterbacks, Jones isn’t impervious to the situation around him. He’s far from the first young QB to struggle with pressure and turnovers, especially under these conditions. Just ask Peyton Manning, who had a league-high 28 interceptions in his rookie season until the Colts worked things out for him offensively, or any of Mac’s classmates in the first round of the 2021 draft (see: Wilson, Zach).

Jones’ problems adjusting to a new offensive lineman and shaky offensive line play aren’t unique, unexpected or new. They return to training camp when both were factors in an uneven summer. But that doesn’t excuse him for some of the bad habits he’s developed.

Starting with the positives, which were more prevalent after the review than what it looked like live, Matt Patricia and Jones, an unofficial offensive lineman, finally found a passing script that we can get behind.

Thanks in part to the Jets’ defense, Jones set season lows in average target depth (4.7 yards) and pass attempts of 20+ yards (three). The Pats QB was under center 19 times, attempted eight play-action passes and ran 13 career pass picks on 44 dropbacks.

Whether it was the coaches or the QB driving the change, the play-calling went back to what Mac does best, abandoning the vertical passing game for concepts and quick short-to-intermediate routes to the posts on third downs.

For example, the Jets defense got mixed up in a few blitzes on third down from the secondary. Instead of taking deep shots against pressure, as they did last week, the Pats had quicker exits for Jones on Sunday.

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