FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It hasn’t exactly been smooth sledding for the Patriots offense as they’ve gone through the initial days of training camp. For the most part, it’s been the defense that has gotten the better of the offense and taking the day, particularly during camp’s most competitive sessions in 11-on-11s.
Over the last two padded practices, Mac Jones has completed 11 of his 19 throws in 11-on-11s. Those passing totals don’t even really tell the entire story either as the defense has smothered the offense, forcing the second-year quarterback — and rookie Bailey Zappe — off his spot and has oftentimes been flushed out of the pocket.
Jones said after Tuesday’s practice that they “have a lot of room to grow.”
“I think that’s why we practice, and I care a lot about football and we all do,” he said. “It’s very competitive and when we lose ‘the day,’ to me that’s like a shot in the heart, you know, it’s like we lost the game. So, there’s a lot more than that because it’s practice you want to learn but at the end of the day we’re out here competing and the goal is, to have more good plays than the other team and in that case, that’s the defense right now.
“I feel like we can compete even more and even better but a lot of it is just execution and X’s and O’s and figuring out how to communicate with each other.”
Of course, the offense has taken center stage as a key storyline to open camp, not only regarding who’ll call plays in the wake of Josh McDaniels’ departure this offseason but how this, as Bill Belichick put it, “streamlined” offense operates. At this stage, Jones noted that they’ve been running their “base plays” but also confirmed that they’ve been working in newer plays, which include pass catchers being bunched in towards the line. New England has also seemingly leaned towards a wide-zone scheme, which is reminiscent of what Kyle Shanahan runs in San Francisco.
“I think different teams around the league use tight bunches and a lot of times it’s for their advantage,” said Jones. “We’re trying to do that a little bit more. There’s different plays you can run out of them, so anything that’s different can help confuse the defense.”
While the offense has struggled out of the gate, there is plenty of time between now and when the snaps actually count to break in this new point of attack.
“Every problem has a solution and some of the plays that we’re running, we’re going out there and seeing what it looks like first, and then trying to figure it out,” said Jones. “So that’s the biggest thing, is just getting the plays on the screen and watching them, ‘alright here’s the problem, this guy’s unblocked, how do we block him?’
“It’s really not rocket science but our job is to execute what they tell us and go through my reads and go through my run looks and we’re going to continue to grow in that area. It’s just every play is a different play whether it’s a run or pass and the communication on each play is different. So it takes reps, it takes watching film and doing all that.”