FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots are making some big changes to try to improve their offense.
For now, a change at quarterback won’t be one of them.
New England coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday that Mac Jones will remain the starter when the Patriots visit the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Yeah, we’re not making any changes,” Belichick said.
Jones is having his worst season since being drafted 15th overall in 2021. He completed just 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards and two interceptions in New England’s 34-0 loss to New Orleans last week. He had a 30.5 passer rating, the second-worst mark of his career.
He has had six turnovers over the past two weeks, one of the biggest impediments for an offense that has managed just three points during that stretch. The Patriots (1-4) haven’t scored a touchdown in 10 quarters of play.
It’s led to a promise from Belichick that this week’s preparation for the Raiders would begin with a restart of sorts, focused on fundamentals including everything from pre-snap penalties to consistency in the run and passing games, to improved pass protection.
For Jones, that also has meant a recommitment to something else that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet — having fun.
It was a point of emphasis Jones first made during training camp that he said has gotten lost during the Patriots’ slow start.
“You guys saw that in training camp, we were out there having fun. Then, the game comes around. I don’t know what it is,” he said. “We want to go out there and have fun and do our jobs and celebrate with each other. When somebody gets knocked down, pick them back up and all that stuff. So trying to change the narrative there and really just play football together.”
An increased fun quotient does two things, Jones said. It helps him relax, and also helps him be a more free-flowing communicator with those around him.
Following mistakes or poor offensive series in the two most recent losses, he’s often slumped quietly on the bench and had little interaction with his teammates. That must change, he said, if the unit is going to find a way out of its current malaise.
“(Self-doubt is) definitely a real thing, right, when you’re not playing too well,” Jones said. “But at the same time … there’s a lot of things I can do really well. And one of those things in my ability to communicate and be myself. I haven’t done that here at times. But I just need to be consistent with that, and be Mac.”
Asked whether he believes Jones is the right quarterback to get the offense back on track, tight end Hunter Henry pointed to his work ethic.
“He’s been through a lot of adversity in his own way,” Henry said. “I think the proof’s in the work. That guy comes to work every single day. No matter the circumstances, no matter what is going on around him. We’ve put a lot of work in together and we’ve got to rely on that work.”
As bad as things have been, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien believes there is time to fix the issues.
“There’s a lot of season left,” O’Brien said this week. “There’s always obituaries being written. But there’s a lot of football to be played.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl