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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones returned from two of his most shocking performances of the season in Sunday’s 5-10 win over the humble Jacksonville Jaguars, showing the kind of determination that has made him happy with coaches and teammates from his early days at work.
The complete dominion was exactly what Jones and the Patriots needed; the true definition of a “get right” game against an inferior enemy.
Jones finished 22-of-30 for 227 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft played out the No. 1 pick, Trevor Lawrence, who went 17-of-27 in 193 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions.
Given how bad the Jaguars (2-14) are, there can be few definitive conclusions drawn from a big picture other than perhaps this: It was a classic contrast between an organization that has successfully brought its rookie quarterback and another organization that has not done enough to support its valued investment.
The Jones and the Patriots improved to 10-6 with the win and got a spot in the playoffs with a combination of the win and the Miami Dolphins’ loss to the Tennessee Titans.
If there was a signature moment on Sunday, it was Jones and coach Bill Belichick – two ultra-serious personalities – who smiled at each other on the sidelines in the fourth quarter.
– New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 2, 2022
“He’s a great person to train because he’s so responsive to doing everything that you want to do,” Belichick said. “[Offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] has done an amazing job with him, and Mac has embraced the wisdom Josh has transferred to him. He played extremely well today. “
It helped that the Jaguars were ravaged by COVID-19 absence in the week leading up to the game, but after back-to-back losses where Jones (two TD passes and four interceptions in those games) and the Patriots did not consistently do so. playing with the basic level and the discipline they need to compete in the off-season, they had to start somewhere.
“We talked about how it is us, it does not have much to do with the other team,” said Jones, who was waiting for Lawrence on the field after the game and shared an embrace with him. “We just have to focus on what we need to do, how we can do better, which we have not done in recent weeks. I think that was a good step today.”
Belichick reiterated these remarks after the match, saying: “I feel we made some progress, but we still have some way to go again here. Just have to keep sharpening it out. Hopefully we do and see where it takes U.S.”
For Jones, who was helped on Sunday by a strong running game that produced 181 yards on 36 attempts, it should only benefit him and the Patriots to experience playoff football from a long perspective.
“Every sport you play, you want a chance to play for a championship and a playoff spot,” he said. “We have a big fight next week and that’s what we want to focus on, to finish strong. We want to be where our feet are and when the next one comes we will have a new plan and attack it. . “
The “big game” is the season finale away against the Dolphins, which has usually meant problems; The Patriots are 2-7 in South Florida in the months of December and January under Belichick.
Jones, who broke the Patriots’ single-season record for touchdown passes by a rookie (20) set by Jim Plunkett in 1971, comes in with a shot of confidence after one of his best performances of the season, which garnered praise from Belichick.
“Mac is super consistent. Every day is really the same day for Mac. He’s always well prepared. He’s getting started early. He’s ready to go,” Belichick said. “He’s smart, a good learner. He has good instincts. He has good mechanics. He’s worked hard to get better every day … and has just improved in all areas over the year.”