FOXBORO — New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones entered Week 11 of the 2022 NFL season determined to make improvements.
After conducting what he described as a “full audit” of his performance during the team’s bye week, Jones made good on his intent by going 23 of 27 for 246 yards without committing a turnover in New England’s 10-3 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
New England efficiently utilized its play-action passing game, with Jones completing seven passes for over 100 yards on such plays. The Pats' starter connected on big plays with several of his targets, including tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, receiver Jakobi Meyers and running back Rhamondre Stevenson. The team finished with 297 yards of total offense, while Jones turned in, arguably, his best performance of the season.
“We won the game, and I think obviously we moved the ball pretty well today,” Jones told reporters following the game. “I thought we stayed together as a unit, didn't lose our cool and worked together.”
Yet, not one of Jones’ 23 completions went for a touchdown.
In fact, save for a 24-yard second-quarter field goal from Nick Folk, and six points from an 84-yard punt return from rookie Marcus Jones, New England may have been shut out at home against its division rivals.
“I think it's a game-by-game thing,” Jones responded when asked about the team’s scoring struggles. “I think today was us against the Jets and really us against ourselves. We want to do better. We want to obviously score more than three points. It's not good enough.”
Despite showing some improvement, Jones once again found himself under constant pressure from a tenacious Jets’ defensive front. While some of the Patriots protection struggles can be attributed to the loss of both David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn to game-ending injuries, as well as ill-timed penalties, the Alabama product failed to develop any type of offensive rhythm. As such, New York’s defense compiled six sacks, eight tackles-for-loss and eight quarterback hits.
While Jones must shoulder some of the blame for his takedowns, New England’s offensive line has been especially porous in potential scoring situations. On Sunday, the Pats crossed midfield on five of their 11 offensive drives. However, they only reached the Red Zone twice, with Jones taking four of his six sacks in Jets territory. If New England hopes to remain in playoff contention, it must find a way to increase their productivity inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.
“Every time you're moving the ball towards the goal line, it's good," Jones said. "When you're going backwards for whatever reason, it's not. We want to be able to create those explosive plays … and then finish off those drives. We need to do that in the Red Zone. We need to do it in the open field. But it comes down to execution and watching the film and seeing what we can do better.”
The Patriots face a tough test on their path to offensive improvement as they travel to the northern Midwest for a Thanksgiving night matchup with the Minnesota Vikings (8-2) at 8:20 p.m. ET from U.S. Bank Stadium.
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