In the wake of long-time offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' departure, the New England Patriots' offense in training camp has been nothing short of a disaster.
Aborted plays. Stuffed runs. Would-be sacks because of breakdowns in protection. Miscommunication on routes. Distressed passes into traffic.
And everyone, it seems, has seen the struggles.
After Monday's rock-bottom performance in which the defense dominated practice, veteran center David Andrews took it upon himself to gather his unit at midfield and deliver a fiery speech.
“It’s just part of it, there’s up and downs of training camp," Andrews said in an attempt to downplay the offensive showing. "Just got to go in and learn from it, see what you can do better. Can't let today or any day derail anything in the future, that just how it goes — wins, losses, you just got to stay steady. You can't go up and down.”
Whether it was Andrews' motivation or a legitimate step in the process of learning new terminology, Tuesday's practice in Foxboro - by all accounts - was drastically improved.
Afterward, quarterback Mac Jones - who entered camp off a productive and promising offseason - admitted frustration, but also vowed to find a solution before the season opener Sept. 11 in Miami.
"I’m going to figure it out. I always have. I always will," Jones said. "At the end of the day, you’re going to have your ups and downs with anything new. … When there’s 10 people that look into my eyes, I know they’re going to trust me to do the right thing on game day."
Jones said the main problem in implementing the new offensive system has been what he calls "free runners": Defenders not being blocked at all and, therefore, getting a free rush lane to the quarterback.
"As long as no one goes free, then it's up to me to make the throws," Jones said. "You can't really tell until you get into a game. But our communication needs to improve."
While Bill Belichick shrugs off the glaring problems and preaches patience, Jones said he appreciated the fire lit under his unit by Andrews. The veteran center ramped-up his intensity Tuesday, getting into a brief fight with defensive lineman Christian Barmore that prompted both sidelines to empty onto the field.
"He's a great leader, and he's got that experience," Jones said. "He knows what the standard is and should be for us."