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Mac Jones Invokes the '24 Hour Rule' as Patriots Turn the Page to Dolphins 

The Patriots quarterback kicked off the week by breaking down the Dolphins defense under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. 

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10).
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10).

The Patriots starting quarterback was his own toughest critic following a season-opening loss to the Eagles last Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Speaking to the media after the game, quarterback Mac Jones took responsibility for the loss when the offense failed to score on two fourth-quarter possessions in a one-score game that ultimately ended in a 25-20 loss to the Eagles—unfortunately, a familiar script for the Patriots against playoff-caliber opponents.

It goes without saying that Jones wasn't solely responsible for the team falling to the defending NFC champs. Still, the time to reflect on what could've been against Philadelphia is over as the Patriots turn the page to Sunday night's divisional matchup against the Miami Dolphins. For the quarterback, it's about having the mind of a goldfish.

"The biggest thing for me is the 24-hour rule, win or lose, just enjoy the win if you win and then learn from the loss if you lose," Jones told reporters on Wednesday. "Just trying to get better at those things, apply those things this week in practice, and move on to a really good team."

Although the Patriots quarterback took Sunday's loss on the chin, his teammates sang a different tune about his performance against the Eagles in the regular-season opener. For example, captain David Andrews credited Jones for his movements and toughness in the pocket, standing in to take some big hits against a vaunted Philly pass rush.

"Mac did a lot of really good things in the pocket for us last week. Moving in the pocket, understanding in the pocket where his problems are, what he needs to do," the Pats center said. "We talk about toughness as an O-Line, running backs. But I think as a quarterback, to stand in there and take some shots and deliver the ball, that's how a quarterback shows his toughness. I think he did a really good job for us."

New England's offense is still searching for consistency to string together touchdown drives throughout a game, and they also need to capture those clutch moments. With that said, there were positives that Jones and company can build on moving forward.

"We've already talked about what we can do better, and just going out there and trying to do it is a challenge. But, that's the fun part about the game, you get a chance to learn from your mistakes and then go out there, and it's going to come up again," Jones explained.

Moving on to Miami, the Dolphins hired veteran coach Vic Fangio to replace Belichick disciple Josh Boyer as their defensive coordinator. With a new DC at the helm, the Fins are overhauling their defensive system into Fangio's zone-heavy defense that is apples to oranges compared to Boyer's Patriots-style scheme. In Fangio's defense, the Dolphins were in zone coverage on over 66 percent of their passing downs in Week 1, while 41.7 percent of their coverages were split-safety zone, like Fangio's staple cover six. Last season, Miami had the third-highest man coverage in the NFL under Boyer (43.1%).

"Defensively, obviously, it's been a big overhaul for them, with Vic [Fangio] coming in," head coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday morning. "I have a ton of respect for Vic as a coach and what he's done in the multiple times we've faced him and just watching his teams over the years, very disciplined, sound and extremely well-coached, well-prepared defense."

After things didn't work out as the head coach in Denver, Fangio served as an advisor for the Eagles during their playoff run in 2022. Fangio's defense is spreading across the NFL as teams adopt his two-high principles to limit big plays against explosive offenses. Although each play-caller has twists, the Pats will see many of the same things Philly did in last week's opener.

"There's going to be some carryover, just with coaching trees and things like that. But, at the end of the day, he's kind of the top dog. He's the originator of all the stuff, and he's done a great job his whole career. I'm just looking forward to going against him," Jones said of Fangio.

Besides two-high zone coverages, the other hallmark of a Fangio defense is pre-snap disguising. Teams that run the Fangio scheme will start in a two-high safety shell and sometimes rotate into a post-safety shell after the snap. Despite mixing in more zone schemes, the Dolphins most frequently used coverage last week was cover one (man), and they also played cover three on 25 percent of their downs. But the bottom line is that they'll spin the dial into those single-high safety shells after the ball is snapped.

"They do a good job of that just based on the early film," Jones said. "They do a good job with disguise, and a lot of teams will do that against us, and from there, you just have to play fast."

The focus for the quarterback is studying the Dolphins defense as the Patriots prepare for Sunday night's matchup. However, it's the second week in a row that Jones will face a former college teammate at quarterback from the University of Alabama in Tua Tagovailoa. As much as it's Jones vs. Miami's defense, the Dolphins big-play offense put up 36 points in a shootout win over the Chargers in Week 1.

"I never try to focus on that part of it. It's really us against the defense, which Miami has a really good defense. Yeah, I have a lot of respect for the guys that I played with in college. They've done a great job in the NFL. I learned a lot from each one of them differently, some things from one guy and some things from another. So, it's been good to learn," Jones said.

The Patriots offense is turning the page to this weekend's matchup against the Dolphins, where Mac will need to keep up with Tua on Sunday night.

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