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Notebook: McDaniels, Mac pushing for a strong finish

The Patriots offensive coordinator expressed no concerns about his quarterback hitting the rookie wall, as they look to finish strong and seal up a playoff berth.


The Patriots coaches met with the media virtually on Tuesday, as they look to get their players on track for a week of preparation for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Josh McDaniels' job will be to get his offense back on track after two-straight losses, including a 14-of-32 for 145 yards passing performance from quarterback Mac Jones, one of his worst statistical outings of the season. Still, McDaniels expressed no concern about Mac hitting any kind of rookie wall at this point.

"He's doing fine, no concern on that," said McDaniels of Jones. "Each rookie kind of handles that differently, there's always a stretch during the course of the middle of the season that's a little bit new to them. Because when you count the preseason, starting in July, usually that happens somewhere towards the end of October, middle of November, somewhere in there. He's gotten through that, he understands what he needs to do and does a great job with his regimen, takes care of his body, his preparation, he's learned how to manage his time and what he needs to allocate it towards."

Despite the disappointing results of the last two games, it's hard to be too upset with the Patriots 2021 season and Jones is a big reason why. Like all rookies, he's had some growing pains, but the losses to Colts and Bills will not define his first year in the NFL. And with two regular-season games left and a playoff match likely to follow, there's still plenty more for Jones to show and experience over the month of January.

"There's got to be a balance between your preparation, taking care of your body, getting your rest, continuing to train and doing the things that keep you strong and healthy and keeping your mind healthy as well," said McDaniels. "It's always a process I think [Mac]'s done a really good job of it...He's ready to go he wants to try to finish the season strong."

The most direct route to getting back on track? Eliminating the turnovers and mistakes that have undercut the offense's efforts in recent weeks. It all starts when the Patriots get back on the practice field on Wednesday.

"We'll try to put the best plan together for a new opponent that we don't know very well and try to go out there and have three really good days of practice and we've always thought that our execution on the practice field gives us the best chance for that to become game reality," said McDaniels. "That's the goal this week, have a great Wednesday and then try to follow it up with two more days and see if we can't carry it over to play a consistent game for four quarters. Start the game the right way, limit the mistakes, limit turnovers, penalties and try to play the game the right way from ahead. We know we're capable but we have to do it and it starts with me."

Hoyer to Reserve/COVID list

A day after both Matthew Judon and Ja'Whaun Bentley landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list they were joined by backup quarterback Brian Hoyer as COVID continues to upend the last weeks of the season. The team still has Jarrett Stidham on the active roster as a backup to Mac Jones but lost practice squadder Garrett Gilbert to Washington last week.

Quotes of Note

Troy Brown on N'Keal Harry:

"I want to see him keep working the way he's been working this year. From Day 1, he's worked hard and willing to do whatever it took to help this team win some games. That's all I can ask of him… and keep trying to get his fundamentals better."

Jerod Mayo on starting fast:

"At the end of the day we just have to play better and coach better. Not just put our toe in the water, be ready to go. That's the most disappointing thing for us when we don't start fast we're sitting there fighting from behind, it's always tough to beat a lot of quality opponents that way, it's not a good way to play. We don't start slow on purpose, it's always the goal to start fast. Hopefully we can get that done this week."

Mick Lombardi on starting fast:

"We always talk about practice execution becomes game reality. We try our best to get started in practice at a fast tempo and the guys do a good job of that, coming ready to go. You go out there, you're prepared, you're ready to go, energy, demeanor, but then execution comes to play. We've done a good job with that in some games this year and other games we haven't done a great job. You can see how that affects the rest of the half and we're playing catch-up."

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