FOXBORO - After a solid rookie season in which Mac Jones led the New England Patriots to the playoffs and was selected to the Pro Bowl, Year 2 is off to a bleak start. The offense has been underwhelming, as Jones has led engineered just 50 points and gained 786 yards in the first three games. He's also already thrown five interceptions, including three in last week's home-opener loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
In comparison to last year, Jones led the offense to 54 points 737 yards, and just three interceptions through the first three games.
So why the drop-off? Bill Belichick-coached players typically make a second-year leap, right?
It’s no secret that turning the football over will instantaneously land a player on the bench. And while no other quarterback on the Patriots roster is necessarily threatening Jones for the starting job, it doesn’t mean Belichick wouldn’t give someone else a chance if his second-year quarterback keeps throwing the ball to the other team.
“New England is not doing anything they stand for,” former Patriots assistant coach Michael Lombardi said on “The GM Shuffle” podcast. "As much as I like Mac Jones, I thought he would protect the ball and play smarter than he’s played. To me, he was in danger of either changing what he did, or he is going to lose his job. You’re not going to play in the NFL if you keep turning the ball over the way he was.”
The Patriots need a boost in scoring because they are 0-6 when allowing 25 or more points in the Jones era.
Lombardi, who was a Patriots assistant in 2014-2015 and was previously an NFL front-office executive with the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, and Las Vegas Raiders, pointed out that this type of football isn't what New England is accustomed to.
“I’ve never seen a New England team like this," he said. "This is so anti-Belichick. It’s so not who they are in that building. They just haven’t been themselves.
"Think about it. They've had eight turnovers in three games. It’s not just interceptions, it’s fumbling, too. They’re not protecting the football."
Despite multiple reports that Jones suffered a high ankle sprain, the second-year quarterback is preparing like he could be on the field Sunday at Lambeau Field.
While the injury saga surrounding Jones continues, the Patriots are expected to turn to backup Brian Hoyer as their quarterback. His first test of course will be to try and knock off Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
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