New England Patriots

  • The No. 1 thing Bill Belichick wants from his quarterback is to make good decisions with the football. Mac Jones hasn’t played up to an acceptable standard in that department so far in the 2022 season, and he knows it.

    Speaking to reporters on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, Jones acknowledged the Patriots need to have better ball security all-around if they want to win more games and get back to the playoffs, especially as the schedule toughens up in the coming weeks.

    “Yeah, I think that’s important. The ball is number one. We have to do a better job with that, and I do too,” Jones said. “So, definitely just watch the tape and see what we can do better. But they’re part of the game. You just have to move on from them. We’re trying to identify how we can be better, and that’s the important part, right? You just go about your day and run the play how it’s supposed to be executed. If it’s not there, then just throw it away and move on to the next play.”

    Jones threw an interception last Sunday against the Jets, which wasn’t entirely his fault, due to poor pass protection all afternoon. But it’s been hard to forgive Jones for the near-pick-six that got wiped out by a timely roughing the passer penalty by Jets pass-rusher John Franklin-Myers.

    Despite an ugly moment, that miscue between Jones and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers belied an improved day for Jones in terms of overall ball security. In prior weeks, Jones might have heaved more careless interceptions. In this one, he consistently scrambled and threw the ball away when the situation called for it. Living to see another play helped Jones lead scoring drives of 15 plays and 10 plays. Another 13-play drive ended with a turnover on downs.

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  • The Patriots are fortunate to have a turnover differential of exactly zero. They’ve been the wildest ride in the league in terms of possession. Entering Week 9, they lead the NFL in both giveaways and takeaways (16 each). So, ideally, Jones and the offense can continue to tighten up themselves while the defense continues to make plays on the ball.

    It’s fair to wonder how that game against the Jets would’ve gone had Franklin-Myers not decided to knock Jones down after he threw that interception right to Michael Carter II. But the reality is the Patriots came out of the game with a much-needed win, in both the game itself and in the turnover battle.

    For a quarterback that had been struggling to protect the ball, against a talented pass rush feasting on a labored offensive line, it was an admirable effort by Jones. He’s lucky that the pick-six didn’t count, to be certain. Now he has a chance to put that behind him and build on the successes.

    If Jones and Meyers want to avoid a disaster like they almost had on that play, they need to get even more on the same page than they already appeared to be.

    “Yeah, I think you want to just find ways to improve as a unit and as an offense,” Jones said. “Whatever we can do to communicate better and get on the same page is important. We have our meetings every day, but we also want to make sure that we go through plays that maybe we didn’t hit in practice or looks we might see in a game.

    “It’s always good to get the extra mental reps. You might not get it on the field, but if you can talk through it and get it in the film room, that’s always good.”

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 17: Mac Jones #10 and Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots shack hands before their game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 17: Mac Jones #10 and Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots shack hands before their game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Despite the talent on the Colts defense, they’ve only forced eight takeaways so far this season, 23rd in the league. That’s despite having a dynamic defensive line across the board, headlined by interior rusher DeForest Buckner, and talented defensive backs like former Pats legend Stephon Gilmore, slot corner Kenny Moore, and safety Rodney McLeod. They are eighth in scoring defense (19.6 points allowed per game) and third in rushing yards allowed per carry (4.0), so there should be challenges moving the ball.

    But if Jones can stack a better week on top of last in terms of protecting the ball and making good decisions, that could make a big difference for a Patriots offense that’s often struggled mightily to play “keep away.” Don’t be surprised if the team that wins the turnover battle wins on Sunday.

    The Patriots and Colts kick off at 1 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Until then, click here for complete Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.