New England Patriots: Mac Jones off to a good start despite lack of support

Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones is already blazing a torrid trail of excellence as he has demonstrated in his first two NFL starts.

Jones has been highly touted here and he is living up to expectations and then some. Yet, the critics are already circling like vultures ready to pounce on any morsel of inaccuracy or so-called poor decision-making.

Those will happen with any NFL quarterback, never mind a rookie who has a mere two games under his belt. But Jones isn’t the reason for any of the Patriots’ passing game inadequacies.

New England Patriots offensive line is Mac Jones worst enemy

Critics contend Jones isn’t throwing downfield. Interestingly, some felt the same about Tom Brady several years ago.

And why is that in Jones’ case? Easy; most of his very few situational difficulties can easily be pegged to an unexpectedly porous offensive line that isn’t providing enough protection.

That line was highly touted here and elsewhere as a top-five line in the league, though its depth was questioned. That is being proven totally wrong to this point. The proof is in the pudding.

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Right now, it’s playing more like a bottom five outfit. Much of that drop in effectiveness, however, can be traced to the loss of one giant cog in that wheel.

That would be Trent Brown. Brown should have been immediately penciled in as the Patriots starting LEFT tackle. He wasn’t and the incumbent Isaiah Wynn has been ineffective.

Wynn has had a poor first two games logging penalties and whiffing on pass rushers too often. When Brown returns, he should be switched to left tackle and Wynn moved elsewhere, e.g to right tackle or guard.

In addition, the New England Patriots coaching staff to this point hasn’t utilized its current offensive line talent effectively to try to replace Brown while he’s out with injury.

Michael Onwenu should immediately be slotted in at right tackle and Ted Karras at his left guard spot. Those moves have cost the team and the rookie quarterback in his first two games.

Jones has been under constant pressure as the replacement tackles and others in the line have been menaces to their own offense.

This group can’t keep a clean pocket for their sensational quarterback. Jones has been under duress on almost every play.

Simply put, his offensive line isn’t giving him sufficient time to do much more than drop a pass to his safety valves on most occasions or to a wide receiver a few yards past the line of scrimmage.

To his credit, Jones takes what he can get and will also take a sack rather than throw a risky pass. The result is no interceptions to date. This is a sign of veteran presence, not of a young rookie.

New England Patriots Mac Jones is thriving despite the team’s offensive shortcomings

While the offensive line is the primary offender, his wide receivers are average at best. Yet, on the rare occasions he does get time, he’ll find even these receivers early and often.

Despite these deficiencies in his supporting cast, all Mac Jones has done is complete 73.9, let’s say 74 percent of his passes, with again, NO interceptions.

And he’s thrown 69 passes in the two games so it’s not a small sample size. It is what it is, almost unheard of, and maybe even unprecedented, accuracy and ball protection.

Hopefully, the New England Patriots coaching staff will take the necessary steps to clean up the offensive line mess (they can do that today).

Then, they should go out into the trade market and pickup a top wide receiver before the trade deadline. They should also pick up a solid (not the usual waiver-wire type) offensive tackle for depth purposes.

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Unless and until they do this, New England Patriots nation shouldn’t expect much more from this passing offense than what it’s already seen. That’s great quarterback play and not very much else.

These are systemic deficiencies that need to be remedied now. One can be accomplished immediately, but the others will take both a significant commitment and a large investment.

Whether or not the New England Patriots coaching and personnel decision-makers take these steps will determine if this is a playoff team, and if so, how far it can go. We’ll see.