Mac Jones took 11 QB hits against the Saints so it's not surprising that the protection issues have been a big point of discussion in the aftermath. The rookie quarterback's development will be severely hindered if he can't find a degree of comfort inside the passing pocket.
"I would prefer him never to get hit," joked Josh McDaniels on Tuesday during his weekly check-in with the media. "All 11 guys factor into those things. I never attribute a pressure or a sack or a hit to one man because oftentimes there a lot of things that could've changed that. Maybe the read was a little late, maybe the route wasn't as good as we wanted it to be, we had to go to the second or third option, the protection, the help. There's a lot of things that go into that."
Through three games, the rookie has shown promise and each day of practice or game is another fresh batch of new experience that will help him improve.
"Mac learns something every day, which is true of all rookies and young players in our league," said McDaniels. "There are things he'll see in practice tomorrow that he's never seen. There are things that he's going to see Thursday and Friday in our preparation that Tampa does that he's never seen.
"Every game's a great opportunity and a learning experience for him. I've tried to take each one of those as a teachable moment for him, try to improve little by little."
The hardest part of McDaniels' job? Balancing the weekly push for victory with the long-eyed view of developing the player.
"You're trying to compete to win as hard as you can every single week, every single play, every single game but at the same time I'm trying to take a little bit of a long approach in terms of, you can't give him everything that somebody else took six years to learn in four or five months," said McDaniels.
This week McDaniels needs no introduction to the opposing quarterback, one whom he spent two decades with, coaching and molding, suffering stinging defeats but also winning multiple Super Bowls.
"It should be a lot of fun," said McDaniels of Tom Brady's return. "We're obviously very good friends and close and that should never change. I know he'll be excited to compete and come up here and try to win and play his best game. We're trying to do the same thing.
"I know what the atmosphere will feel like on Sunday night. I know he'll be ready to go, I know we'll be ready to go. Hopefully, we can put our best performance out there and compete as hard as we can to try to win."
Coach's Quotes of Note
Jerod Mayo on Tom Brady's age:
"His career alone is old enough to drink. It's crazy."
Ivan Fears on Brady's return:
"I love Tom Brady. I always have. I spent 20 years with the young guy. I am very honored to have played or been a part of the team with him. I still think he's the greatest, but right now that SOB is the enemy."
Steve Belichick on the state of the defense:
"We haven't done enough on defense to help the team win like we need to and that's our goal. Stats are cool but the one stat's that the best is winning and that's what we're trying to do as a coaching staff and the players."