New England quarterback Mac Jones has struggled since the Patriots returned from the bye week. In back-to-back losses, Jones has tossed four INTs and completed just 52 percent of his passes.
Despite his struggles coming late in the season, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels dismissed the issue being any sort of rookie wall that Jones hit.
"He's doing fine, no concern on that," McDaniels said of Jones, via the team's official website. "Each rookie kind of handles that differently, there's always a stretch during the course of the middle of the season that's a little bit new to them. Because when you count the preseason, starting in July, usually that happens somewhere towards the end of October, middle of November, somewhere in there. He's gotten through that, he understands what he needs to do and does a great job with his regimen, takes care of his body, his preparation, he's learned how to manage his time and what he needs to allocate it towards."
Like most rookie QBs, Jones has gone through ups and downs in his first season under center. As defenses get more film to pick apart his tendencies, it's natural for a young quarterback to struggle a bit. The key is how he adjusts to what defenses have done the past two weeks.
Over his last two tilts, Jones' four INTs are tied for the most in the NFL. In addition, his 56.4 passer rating over that span ranks 25th among 27 QBs with 40-plus pass attempts. Jones has earned a 5.8 yards per attempt average and a 2-4 TD-INT ratio in the Pats' latest losses. In the previous seven games -- all wins -- he generated 8.1 YPA and a 9-2 TD-INT ratio.
The long grind of the season is taxing on all players, especially with an added 17th game this season. But the dreaded "rookie wall" isn't the reason for Jones' recent struggles. He's faced two good defenses who have made life difficult.
"There's got to be a balance between your preparation, taking care of your body, getting your rest, continuing to train and doing the things that keep you strong and healthy and keeping your mind healthy as well," McDaniels said. "It's always a process I think [Mac] 's done a really good job of it... He's ready to go he wants to try to finish the season strong."
Facing a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that struggles to get consistent pressure (28th in the NFL in sacks) or causes turnovers (last), Jones is in a prime bounce-back spot Sunday. If he struggles against the two-win Jags, then Pats fans can start to panic. But if New England comes out victorious, Jones will be the first rookie QB to help his team to 10 or more wins since Dak Prescott in 2016 (won Offensive ROY).