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Mac Jones Sees Improvements With Patriots Offense

After an inconsistent start to camp, the Patriots quarterback is seeing progress.

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) drops back to pass during Training Camp.
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) drops back to pass during Training Camp.

For those taking in each day at Patriots training camp this summer, there's been a noticeable frustration from quarterback Mac Jones at times.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and every offensive player that comes to the podiums before or after practice has answered questions about the scheme changes and the up-and-down play. 

To that point, veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, who spent time playing for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco as a member of the 49ers in 2017, spoke about some of those new elements. 

"There are elements of that," Hoyer said of the similarities between New England's new offensive system and the one he played in under Shanahan. "But there are also elements to the things we've done here in the past as well."

On Tuesday, Belichick described evaluating the process over results, pinpointing consistency rather than flashy plays that the media might point out on a given day. 

"If you look at the result of the play, that's one thing. If you look at the 22 components of the play with 11 on each side, that's a totally different breakdown. There's an element of both, but if you don't get the 11 things right, you'll eventually have problems," Belichick said on Tuesday. 

Speaking to reporters after practice, quarterback Mac Jones shed light on his "frustrations" regarding the newer elements of New England's pass protection schemes. 

Although growing pains are expected whenever there's a coaching change, the offense is best described as disjointed, and there are too many instances where the offense isn't getting every pass rusher blocked.

"It is a little frustrating at times. But our offensive line, the actual players and coaches, are trying the best they can," Jones told "We have good offensive lineman. Good players up front. A lot of it is just figuring out the scheme and making sure there are no free guys."

"That's the biggest thing for me. As long as there's no one free, I should be able to make the throws like any quarterback can, and I know my offensive line can do that. It's just getting the communication. It's different from what we've done in the past."

The natural follow-up question to the declaration that New England's protection rules and calls are different than in the past is, what makes it so different to the Pats starting quarterback?

"At the end of the day, you don't want to have any free runners. That's the biggest thing to me. Our guys on our team, the fundamentals are really good, they're giving me a good pocket, and we just want to clean up those few plays where they are not. A lot of it is just me stepping up and getting the ball out quick, too. It's a full group effort here."

With opponents always looking for an edge, it's not a surprise that Jones didn't get the whiteboard out to diagram how exactly the Patriots protections have changed this season. 

And the Patriots offense had a more productive day both through the air and on the ground in Tuesday's practice, where the operation was as crisp as it's been in recent days. 

With a clean pocket to throw from, Jones had time to scan from left to right and found a height mismatch on the boundary for DeVante Parker against Jonathan Jones. Mac floated the ball up in the air for Parker, who climbed the ladder over Jones to make the contested grab. 

Later, the Patriots defense sent a more exotic pressure toward Jones, leading to an unblocked Devin McCourty running free through the line. Although Jones isn't a fan of free runners, it was clear that Jones knew he was a man short if McCourty came on a blitz and threw "hot" to an open Nelson Agholor on a speed out in the flat to beat the pressure. 

Stacking plays like those together, where Jones has a clean pocket or is aware of his answer to pressure when the defense brings more rushers than blockers, is what the Patriots need. 

Ultimately, the offense needs to perform regardless of the schematic changes the coaching staff is implementing this season, so pointing to the newness of it all can only last so long. When the games start to count, the results will speak for themselves. 

However, the players, from the quarterbacks on down, are owning the reality that they're still going through a learning process in the new-look Patriots offense.

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