Patriots quarterback Mac Jones appeared on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego” show on Monday, touching on a variety of topics including his latest benching against the Giants on Sunday and his future with the Patriots.
Here are a few highlights from Jones’ extended radio interview:
A fresh start?
For the fourth time in 11 games this season, Mac Jones was benched by Bill Belichick on Sunday after yet another poor showing against the Giants.
It remains to be seen if Jones will get yet another opportunity to lead New England’s sputtering offense in 2023.
Jones only played in the first half of New England’s eventual 10-7 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium, completing just 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 89 yards and two brutal interceptions.
In 11 games this season, Jones has only thrown for 10 touchdowns and been knocked for 12 interceptions.
Amid Jones’ struggles and New England opting to turn to Bailey Zappe in the second half of Sunday’s loss, the former first-round pick was asked if he still views himself as New England’s starter entering Week 13 against the Chargers.
“Um, look. You always ask me, right? I think the biggest thing for me is that’s a result. I’m going to focus on the process this week,” Jones said. “Focus on competing and getting better. That’s all I’ve ever done at every sport. I know that if I do that, we’ll be in good hands. That’s something I need to focus on as always. I do have confidence in myself, and I have confidence in the guys around me.”
With Jones’ decision-making and poise seemingly eroding with each new week, the writing seems to be on the wall that the QB’s time in Foxborough could be reaching an end — especially if New England selects a blue-chip signal caller in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not he sticks in Foxborough will not be made by Jones.
But does the struggling QB find any appeal in potentially starting fresh with another team in 2024 and beyond?
“I mean, I’m good right now,” Jones replied. “I really want to be the quarterback here. I’ve always wanted to be a quarterback in the NFL, and specifically for the Patriots. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of room to grow and everything, and I’m going to just continue to work hard and do all the things I can to put myself in a position to have success.”
Jones and Zappe might have both split reps on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, but Bill Belichick and the Patriots seemed to be sending mixed signals all week as to who would get reps under center.
Even though Hunter Henry noted postgame that he didn’t know who New England’s starting QB would be until Sunday, MassLive’s Mark Daniels reported Monday that both Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott knew that Jones would be the starter throughout the week.
As expected, Belichick remained mum all week when speaking to the media about New England’s starter against the Giants. But keeping his players out of the loop all week (if such was the case, as Henry tells it) stands as another matter for a team already married by ill preparation and several lapses in execution.
With his status as QB1 far from a guarantee last week, did Jones feel as though his level of communication with Belichick took a hit in the days leading up to Sunday’s game against New York?
“I definitely think it varies from week to week,” Jones said of his talks with Belichick. “I try to communicate with people and get input and find out ways I can be better, so that’s what I always try to do. Whether it’s the quarterback coach or the head coach, or anything, anywhere I’ve been that’s what I’ve always done.
“At the end of the day, I put the work in, and I’ve got to go out there and be the best I can be. There’s a lot of variables each week that change, but for me, I just need to go out there and control what I can control.”
Doomed to fail?
Regardless of who ultimately earned the starting nod on Sunday in the Meadowlands, it seemed like Belichick and his coaching staff were going to give both Jones and Zappe an equal share of reps to earn their spot atop the depth chart.
Multiple reports noted that the Patriots’ quarterback reps were split about 50-50 between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe during practice, with Jones ultimately keeping his starting role.
But with New England’s valuable practice time split between two quarterbacks, did Jones think that he wasn’t given ample reps to prepare against the Giants?
“I prepare very hard. Literally every second of the day is preparation for the game,” Jones said. “So I feel confident in myself and like we talked about — just need to do a little better job of taking what I know and what I need to do on game day and apply that to each situation. And there’s so many situations that can pop up and like I just said, quarterback is the hardest position in sports.
“And there’s a lot of things that can happen on each play, really. So I just have to really focus on taking those reps in practice and apply it to the game. And then also when I don’t get the reps, just work like I always do and get my throws in and get my throw count — I think that’s a very important thing for me is how many throws I’m getting each week. And that varies from week to week.”
Losing the locker room?
Jones brushed aside any talk of his reported standing among his Patriots teammates.
“I don’t really deal with the sources and things like that. That’s not really my thing,” Jones said. “But I think I put a lot of work in the offseason, throughout the past three years I’ve been here, and my attitude, my effort — It’s something I’m gonna control, like I talked about.
“And I’ve been with some of these guys for three years and some of these guys are rookies this year and they’re getting to know me. But at the end of the day, I’m gonna continue to fight and I know the guys that are gonna do a good job are doing the same. So whoever wants to do that and get on board — I know they’re gonna fight and continue to work hard and that’s all you can ask for.”