The Mac Jones era in New England is getting off the ground smoothly. Through two games, the 2021 first-round pick has completed 73.9% of his passes and is averaging 233.5 passing yards per game with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Meanwhile, the Patriots are arguably a Damien Harris fumble away from beginning the year with a 2-0 record. But even as Jones has impressed in the early goings, there are some things to nitpick. One in particular is New England’s lack of a deep passing attack.
While Jones is currently sixth in the NFL in completion percentage, his ADOT (average depth of target) currently sits at 5.7, which ranks 27th in the league, per PFF. Jones has just 15 pass attempts that have traveled beyond 10 yards and just five that have gone 20-plus yards down the field. Really, Jones has done much of his work via a dink-and-dunk style passing attack that has 71% of his throws occurring nine yards beyond the line of scrimmage or fewer. The Patriots also do not have a single throw that has gone into the end zone to this point.
“Certainly you want to be able to attack all areas of the field and force the defense to defend everything,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters Tuesday, via NFL.com. “We’ll work hard to try to continue to do that. I know I can do more in that area to give us chances. I think there’s also the balance of the timing of the game, the score, the situation. You’re weighing risk or reward.”
Jones himself was asked about the lack of aggressiveness throwing down the field earlier this week and noted that he simply tries to throw it to the open guy and limit the number of chances for an interception. That seemed to be the polar opposite approach by fellow 2021 draft classmate Zach Wilson in Sunday’s loss to New England, as he threw four interceptions on the day.
“I trust him completely,” McDaniels said of Jones. “Believe me, there’s not a whole lot we’re holding back for him. …You want to be able to test those areas of the field as we go forward, but I also want him to make smart decisions, I want him to protect the football, and I want him to be aggressive when there are times to be aggressive.”
Jones will get an opportunity to push the ball downfield next Sunday when the Patriots host the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium.
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The Mac Jones era in New England has begun following the stunning release of Cam Newton. How will the rookie fare this season and what does it mean for the rest of the Patriots’ players? Download the CBS Sports app to find out! Plus, get insight from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to pick the Patriots as your favorite team for up-to-the-minute news.