It's tough to get a good gauge on the Patriots offense right now. On one hand, they selected Mac Jones 15th overall and have put him into a situation where he's started his first six NFL games and has looked like he has a future at most important position in the game. On the other hand, the Patriots are just 2-4 and are hurting themselves with mistakes more often than hurting the opponent on the scoreboard.
As expected, with a rookie quarterback and a host of new free agents, not to mention the ramifications from heavy injuries to the offensive line, there's been some inconsistency when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, but coordinator Josh McDaniels sees solid progress from his group.
"We're continuing to try to grow and evolve offensively, grow and evolve as a team, and improve hopefully in situations as we go," said McDaniels. "I think we've seen some growth in some areas, we need to do more in others."
One area that has been a hot-button topic is the team's overall aggressiveness. A missed field goal attempt on a 4th-and-3 against the Bucs, as well as a punt in overtime on 4th-and-3 against the Cowboys have left fans and pundits wondering if the Patriots are trying to play it too safe with their young quarterback.
"I think those are decisions that I'm sure coach [Belichick] makes taking in a lot of information to try to make the best decision for the team," said McDaniels. "We'll always be ready to go offensively, and as an offensive coach you always kind of want to go for it, even when it kind of [isn't a] rational decision."
For Jones, the hard loss to the Cowboys saw him bounce back from some of the most challenging moments of his young career, especially the pick-six to Trevon Diggs that quickly gave Dallas back the ball when the Patriots were hoping to run out the clock.
"He's a tough guy," said McDaniels of Jones. "I've seen him grow, I've seen our group grow. We talk a lot about mental and physical toughness and how much of that is required in this league to actually compete and win against good teams. It's tough to do that. That's something you see develop over the course of time and obviously with Mac, you never wanna have to go through the adversity of what happened there with the interception, but hey that's football, it happened and now the responsibility was on our shoulders to try to go out there and see if we could go back and take the lead. I thought he responded with a mental toughness that you want to see from your quarterback.
"He's done that since he's been here. Rookies make mistakes every day. Part of being a rookie is understanding that those are things that are gonna happen and you can't go in the tank and you can't let that ruin the rest of the day at practice or let that ruin the rest of the half of the game, you have to be able to pick yourself up and move on and try to play better football as the game goes along and I thought he did out there."
This week the Patriots will take on their divisional rival New York Jets, a team that they dispatched in Week 2 by a score of 25-9. Despite the lopsided score, McDaniels expressed how impressed he is with the stamp that head coach Robert Saleh has put on his team.
"Coach Saleh does a really good job of getting them to apply his style of football which is unique, it really is," said McDaniels. "I know they talk about 'All gas, no brakes' and you see that on the film. It's very clear to see that they have completely bought in, they built the team around that motto. They're after the ball on every play... That's going to be a big part of the game. I don't know we're gonna play a team that plays harder than this one on every play.
"We didn't do everything we wanted to do right the first time we played them, we were fortunate we came out with a W. This is going to be a big challenge for us again and we're excited to get started with her guys tomorrow."