The New England Patriots are already under pressure before Week 2 at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quarterback Mac Jones is especially in demand.
Munich – Mac Jones is an optimist.
As quarterback of the New England Patriots, he has to be. As a leader, as a captain, as a performer. It is the 24-year-old’s duty to lead the way, to carry the team along and to display a positive attitude of expectation.
That he is already a leader in his second year in the NFL is something head coach Bill Belichick has no doubt about, naming Jones one of the captains before the start of the season.
“His leadership has been crazy this year. He’s always there and he knows what he wants. That’s been very helpful for us,” wide receiver Jakobi Meyers said. Jones impressed with presence on the practice field, but also in leading the offense in preparation.
Mac Jones: “The undisputed leader of the offense and the team “
A logical consequence, then, as ex-Patriots star Sebastian Vollmer also emphasises.
“He’s the undisputed leader of the offence and the team anyway,” And that’s all the pressure this title will create. “The mentality of a quarterback is responsibility, confidence, pressure – that’s what you should be into as a quarterback anyway,” Vollmer said.
Meaning: the Patriots’ situation ahead of the second game at the Pittsburgh Steelers is tailor-made for Jones. There is no great pressure yet, it is too early for that, but a certain tension is spreading, a nervous tingling. Because with another loss after the 7:20 opening defeat at the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots would be under pressure early in the season.
Jones won’t be rattled, even if his body of work at Miami was as mixed as the offense’s seven points with 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
It was the first time since 2006 that the Patriots lost to the Dolphins by less than ten points. It also threatens to be the Patriots’ first 0-2 start since 2001.
Mac Jones: “Moving in the right direction “
“It’s week one and we’ve done a lot of good things and we’re moving in the right direction in practice,” Jones said. “A lot of the communication is improving and that happens as the season goes on. You improve the things you want to work on and keep the things you do well. We’re confident and we just have to go out and do it, there’s nothing to talk about.”
But the first Patriots critics are already lashing out. And clearly, where Jones has been the quarterback since 2021, the Tom Brady era is not far behind. That, as we all know, ended after the 2019 season. Since then, the Patriots stand at a 17-17 record.
New England Patriots: Severe criticism from LeSean McCoy
“It’s over for Belichick,” former running back LeSean McCoy said. “I’ve never seen the Patriots pay so many players on defense at one time. They’re doing it now that Tom Brady is gone. That’s over. That’s the real Belichick.”
Every coach in the AFC said what he said during the Brady-Belichick era together, McCoy said, “Without Tom Brady, Belichick’s a good coach. Stop with all this ‘He’s the GOAT,’ he’s not. Tom Brady is.”
McCoy continued, “Since Tom Brady left, they look so ordinary.” His criticisms: “They get beat up front in the run game, defenders miss tackles. They look bad on offense. They can’t do anything on offense.”
Which could be because the offense has yet to find itself under Matt Patricia and Joe Judge after the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “You’ve got a very smart kid at quarterback who’s smart enough to know that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge probably aren’t good football coaches for him, I mean, as far as offensive coaching goes,” said former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Rex Ryan.
Josh McDaniels’ departure not an advantage
For Jones, the departure of McDaniels is indeed “not an advantage,” Vollmer said. “When you break that flow because you’re coached differently, with a different philosophy, it can be a hindrance. It just drags on a bit longer than it normally does. But he’s a full pro, so I’m not worried about that,” said the ex-pro, who firmly believes Jones will take the next step, which is usually biggest in the second year anyway.
As a full professional, Jones knows that he is especially challenged in situations like the current one. Especially against a defence that will have to do without superstar T.J. Watt, but was already hot with four interceptions in the surprising overtime win at the Cincinnati Bengals (23:20). Whether Jones will be limited by the back blister from the Dolphins game and missing Thursday’s practice due to illness remains to be seen.
Jones is taking the team to task, but most importantly himself. He wants to get better in the pocket, and under pressure, too. “I just have to complete more throws, get them to receivers and run them. That’s my job, and I’m going to try to do better, but it’s all about practice. We’ve got to work on getting the ball out on time and getting the offense going.” Then, he assures, “then we’ll be good, too.”
Above all, he is called upon to be a leader. Just being an optimist won’t be enough.