FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (BVM) – Frustration is at an all-time high for Mac Jones and the New England Patriots’ offense. A week after throwing for a career-high 382 yards in a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Jones completed just 61% of his passes (third-worst mark of the season) for 195 yards and one touchdown in a 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
During the Thursday night loss to the AFC East-leading Bills, Jones was seen screaming at someone on the Patriots’ sideline, and not for joy.
Mac Jones to Matt Patricia:
THROW THE F*CKING BALL
F*CKING RUN GAME SUCKSpic.twitter.com/EhtEDkQr9F
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 2, 2022
Jones downplayed the outburst after the game, but his comments were still a window into his aggravation.
“Obviously kind of let my emotions get to me,” Jones said after the game. “What I said was kind of throwing it deeper instead of the short game … I felt like we needed chunk plays.”
Jones’ issue was clearly with the play-calling and that should come as a surprise to no one.
New England declined to name an official offensive coordinator this season between Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, but the former Lions head coach has assumed play-calling duties. Patricia rejoined the Patriots last year and is currently working as the team’s offensive line coach and senior football advisor.
Prior to this season, Patricia had zero offensive play-calling experience and served as New England’s defensive coordinator from 2012-17. In fact, Patricia barely has any offensive experience at all, with his last stint on that side of the ball coming in 2005.
With Patricia running the show for the Patriots offensively, New England ranks 20th in points per game (20.8) and 24th in yards per game (318.9). Meanwhile, after a strong rookie season where Jones threw for over 3,800 yards and 22 touchdowns, the second-year quarterback has regressed. Heading into Week 14, Jones has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (7) and ranks 27th in QBR (35.5) this season.
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates, who previously covered the Patriots, believes Patricia is to blame for much of Jones’ and the Patriots’ offensive struggles.
“While there are a lot of very complicated tentacles to coaching in all sports, I’ve always believed that the fundamental job of a coach is to get the best out of whatever players he has and what they do best,” Yates said on a recent episode of Real Spill. “Right now when you watch Matt Patricia, the Patriots’ de-facto offensive coordinator, it isn’t striking me that he’s getting the best out of what Mac Jones does well.”
Yates isn’t the only one noticing the Patriots’ lack of offensive success under Patricia, so too are their opponents. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who the Patriots will play against on Monday Night Football, called it how he sees it when discussing New England’s offense.
“It’s like a defensive guy calling offense.”
Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph on the Patriots offensive play calling. pic.twitter.com/VeNFPHqg06
— Bo Brack (@BoBrack) December 8, 2022
“I see an offense that’s running the football well,” Joseph told reporters ahead of the teams’ Monday Night Football matchup. “It’s a very conservative pass game, lots of screens. It’s like a defensive guy’s calling offense. It’s how a defensive guy would call offensive plays, right?”
Joseph was honest in his assessment of the Patriots’ offense and the numbers back it up. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones has thrown the most screen passes (37) in the NFL this season while only a few teams run the ball more than New England.
Sure, Jones could utilize his limited opportunities more efficiently, but the elephant in the room is Patricia and his lack of offensive ingenuity.
“If I’m the Patriots this offseason, my mindset is that every decision we make has to be dedicated towards empowering Mac Jones,” Yates said. “If that means a coordinator change, if that means making a big investment in a wide receiver, if that means using all your picks on the offense, it doesn’t matter, it’s worth it.”