It can't get much worse for Mac Jones and the New England Patriots offense than what we saw during their Week 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, right?
The Patriots scored only a field goal in a 38-3 loss at AT&T Stadium -- the worst defeat of head coach Bill Belichick's career.
They generated just 253 yards of offense and committed three turnovers. All three came from Jones, whose fumble and interception in the second quarter both were returned for touchdowns by Dallas' defense. The Patriots trailed 18-3 as a result and melted. They gave no pushback at all.
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🔊 Patriots Talk: How does Mac Jones turn the page and where are the Patriots two years from now? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube
Every team and player has bad games. But last week's performance was really bad. Should we view that matchup as an aberration or a picture of what they truly are? That was among the topics discussed on a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast with host Tom E. Curran and guest Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.
"If you want to say, no, we won't see that again, your argument is they faced, according to Pro Football Focus, the four-best pass-rushing teams in the league in Weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4," Callahan said. "You can't have it harder than that. Those teams are going to finish in the top 10, maybe Miami gets bumped out. But if you look at the raw talent -- Jalen Carter, Micah Parsons, Quinnen Williams -- they're gonna (be a problem).
"The argument for saying this will repeat is the mere fact that we saw what Mac did under pressure a year ago. ... The other part is this: Dallas held him to 7-of-13 for 100 yards and an interception against man coverage. They only had three catches from wide receivers not named Demario Douglas against man coverage. The Saints play a ton of man coverage. The Bills play more man coverage against the Patriots than anybody. (The wideouts) can't separate, and that's an issue that's not going away. So unfortunately for Mac, it's still on his plate. You're going to be under pressure. Your guys aren't going to separate. How are young going to respond? And the way we will know is if we get that perfect storm again."
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There's no question Jones needs to play better. A lot better, actually. But it's not all on him. The offensive line needs to protect better and not take bad penalties. The wide receivers need to get open and give him a window. The rushing attack needs to average more than 3.4 yards a carry, which is almost a full yard less than it averaged last season.
There's far more to the Patriots offense's struggles than Jones, but ultimately, he must make smarter decisions and take care of the football. New England has no margin for error. This team isn't talented enough to cough up the ball and expect to win. They don't have the offensive firepower to overcome that.
So, what's the best path to victory Sunday versus the Saints?
"They're going to wrestle in the mud with the Saints," Callahan said. "This is a Spider Man-themed game. You're looking at just average quarterback play, not to mention Derek Carr's injured right now and trying to push through that. Another offense that doesn't use a lot of motion, doesn't use a lot of play-action, very well-coached defensively, tons of schemes, tons of defensive backs.
"This is going to be a field goal game. The Patriots are 1-point favorites at home, which means on a neutral field the Saints would be favored. And I think that's fair when you look at the rosters and talent. But this is the Jets game. Screw up less than they do and we win. But there's no way they score more than 24 points against the Saints."
Kickoff for Patriots-Saints is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. If the Patriots lose, they'll be 1-4 for the first time since 2000.
Also in the episode:
- What has to happen for both Mac Jones and Bill Belichick to be here in 2025?
- Is it only a matter of time before Bill O'Brien and the offense figure it out?
- How much of the offense's struggles is on Jones, and how much is on what Belichick has built offensively over last three years?