Curran: Assessing Mac Jones' late-season struggles


New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has plenty to work on ahead of his first NFL playoff appearance, and he knows it.

"I think we just need to execute better, and that starts with me," Jones said after Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. "Just in practice, in the game, you gotta go out there and do much better than we did today. It's super embarrassing, honestly, from my point, just how I played. It wasn't good enough, and I can be better."

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It's been a rough four-week stretch for Jones, who otherwise has enjoyed a pretty impressive rookie season. The Patriots have lost three of their last four games with Jones throwing five interceptions in that span. After playing relatively mistake-free football for most of the campaign, Jones oddly looked more like a rookie in the final month of the regular season.

Our Tom E. Curran assessed Jones' late-season struggles on "Quick Slants."

"It was the nature of the mistakes that he made," Curran said. "Against Indy, a delay of game on the first drive. When the Patriots finally put a drive together, they were down 17-0, Mac throws a pick. On third-and-3 from the Colts' 15, and then in a third-and-1 coming out of halftime, another pick.

"Against the Bills, he actually played better but he got N'Kealed on his only pick, and he sometimes seemed overmatched playing against a defense that was flying around similarly to the way the Colts' was. Look, he didn't get much help in terms of composure in that game either. David Andrews, Trent Brown, they both had flags, but the Patriots were outplayed all around. Jags game, great, no problems there. But he'd been good against middling or worse competition all year.

"Then Sunday, he took a flamethrower to the Patriots' chances. Pick-six on his first third down of the game. Third quarter, he fumbles the snap for another turnover. Those are nut-crushing mistakes."

Accountability hasn't been an issue for Jones. The 23-year-old has been his own worst critic after each and every one of the Patriots' losses this season. He's even been critical of his own performance after a few wins.

Jones hasn't deserved the blame for some of those defeats, but as Curran states, that doesn't matter. When the late-season losses pile up, a quarterback can earn an unflattering reputation.

"Has he been let down? Yeah, a little bit here and there in different games. Protection's had some issues, defense hasn't bowed up when they needed it to," Curran said. "But we've been watching long enough to know that it begins and ends with the quarterback. And in this league, you don't want to be known as Mr. September."

Jones will look to bounce back from his recent skid when the Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills in next Saturday's Wild Card game.

Hear everything Curran had to say in the video above.

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