Mac Jones-Matt Patricia dynamic grows extra awkward, even in win

Mac Jones was livid … Once more.

The New England Patriots quarterback was clearly displeased along with his teaching workers in opposition to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night time. The Patriots eked out a 27-13 win over the Cardinals, who misplaced Kyler Murray within the first quarter to what the workforce fears might be a season-ending knee damage. 

However New England’s offense seems no much less damaged than it did per week in the past. Jones’ frustrations appeared extra notable than the Patriots beating a depleted Arizona workforce on Monday night time. It marked the second straight week that we have seen Jones yelling at his coaches.

There have been a number of factors in each the second and third quarters the place Jones was clearly annoyed with the Patriots offense. He set free a loud f-bomb as he walked again to the sideline after New England needlessly burnt a timeout on its opening drive of the third quarter. Jones threw up his arms on the sideline after throwing the ball away within the crimson zone. And, most notably, he appeared to get dismissive with the coaching staff while walking back to the huddle.

“This is an emotional game and everyone feeds off emotion,” Jones instructed ESPN after the sport. “And I think at times we’re too flat. That’s what I try to do … motivate my guys. Shout out to everyone on my team for responding.”

That is one technique to spin it.

It simply doesn’t seem to be Jones had the persistence for Patriots offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, whose play-calling has been conservative and unimaginative. Patricia has been reticent to name downfield passing ideas. He has struggled with spacing for his receivers. And he has stunted Jones’ growth this season.

It’s no shock that he turned the butt of jokes on Twitter and even on ESPN broadcasts.

In the course of the “Manning Cast” on ESPN2, comic Keegan Michael Key mocked Patricia’s patented pencil — which the coach all the time retains over his ear — by calling it a pacifier. Eli Manning threw shade at Patricia with some evaluation on the Patriots’ opening drive of the second half. After they picked up 12 yards on a easy idea, Manning commented that play is in each playbook, together with these at the highschool stage.

“They ran that play last week,” Manning mentioned. “They had a guy open. It’s like their one good concept.”

Their one good idea? No surprise Jones is annoyed.

Per week after Jones was noticed telling Patricia that the “quick game sucks,” that’s precisely what the Patriots offensive playcaller hammered in his playbook. Jones ran extra screens than he’d ever achieved in a single recreation throughout his NFL profession.

The Patriots second-year QB didn’t appear thrilled about throwing so many display passes when requested about it after the sport.

“A play is a play,” Jones instructed ESPN. “At the end of the day, you’ve gotta have a game plan to win. And that was our game plan. And it worked.”

However the workforce’s playcalling has not been the one level of frustration for Jones this season. Earlier within the yr, there was frustration between Jones’ camp and the Patriots teaching workers with how they dealt with his return from an ankle damage. There was apparent animosity between Jones and the workers all year long, and on this primetime matchup, the frustration got here out on the sideline, on the sector, out and in of the huddle, and after essential performs.

In the course of the third quarter, the awkward dynamic between Patricia and Jones appeared prefer it may hit a boiling level. However simply when all the pieces seemed messy for New England, the workforce’s protection blew the sport open, with a compelled fumble and scoop-and-score landing. 

Then, on the Cardinals’ ensuing drive, Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones got here up with a well timed interception.

It’s fairly becoming that the protection would save Patricia, isn’t it? 

As a result of he’s — or was? — a defensive coach, by commerce. That’s what made it so weird to see him operating the offense this yr.

After the interception, the Patriots put collectively their most spectacular drive in weeks — partially a product of a busted protection that led to a 39-yard pickup from Jones to tight finish Hunter Henry. 

It’s not like Patricia designed one thing good. He merely referred to as the play that younger Madden gamers like to make use of advert nauseam: 4 verts. It merely sends each one of many pass-catchers straight downfield. No one cherished that playcall greater than 12-year-old me.

After Henry’s large catch, rookie operating again Pierre Robust punched in a 3-yard landing. Then Jones’ frustrations softened. He confirmed Patricia some love on the sideline as the 2 shared a pleasant embrace. Patricia even smiled. 

However Jones didn’t smile or stick with Patricia for lengthy. He appeared to go away Patricia with the message: Let’s run it again. The Patriots QB wasn’t content material. He needed to maintain the offense rolling.

However New England didn’t rating one other level.

The underside line is that this: The Patriots are in hassle. Sure, even after a win.

Jones and Patricia are struggling their method via this season with what looks like a strained relationship. And it’s onerous to have optimism on condition that Jones seems to be enjoying considerably worse this yr underneath Patricia than final yr underneath Josh McDaniels, now the top coach for the Las Vegas Raiders. 

And given the Patriots journey to Las Vegas subsequent weekend to tackle McDaniels and the Raiders, everybody is aware of what the highest speaking level across the NFL might be: Can Jones rise above this strained relationship with Patricia and lead the Patriots to the playoffs? As a result of proper now, New England is the No. 7 seed within the AFC — and that’s regardless of Patricia, not due to him.

Extra from Week 14 of the NFL:

  • NFL playoff image: Which groups are in, who’s nonetheless within the hunt
  • Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff rise; Tua, Tom Brady fall: NFL notes and evaluation
  • Tyreek Hill on chasing 2,000 receiving yards: ‘I want to continue to get better’
  • Chiefs, Bengals make strikes in Bucky’s high 10 NFL groups
  • Lions sizzling in opposition to the unfold; Sportsbooks win due to Jets’ late subject objective
  • Panthers have actual playoff hopes regardless of upheaval. Steve Wilks deserves credit score
  • Eagles first workforce to clinch playoff berth, however they’re on the lookout for rather more
  • Cowboys’ struggles are regarding, however extra vital checks lie forward
  • Justin Herbert sizzles whereas Tua Tagovailoa struggles in marquee matchup
  • In win over Jets, Payments show they’re stepping into Tremendous Bowl form
  • Jaguars earn convincing win over Titans to remain alive in AFC South race
  • Cowboys pull escape act, however win over Texans raises issues
  • NFL odds Week 14: Traces, outcomes for each recreation

Previous to becoming a member of FOX Sports activities because the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years overlaying the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports activities Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Observe him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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