Sep. 13—Welcome to New England, Mac Jones!
This is who we really are, especially since the turn of the new century.
We win. Or else ... it can get ugly.
Last year was great. You not only did the right things, leading a mediocre offense to a playoff berth, but you said the right things.
You sounded like a New Englander, without the horrific accent.
February through July were even better. You lost some baby fat, toned up a bit, did some offseason throwing/bonding with a group of receivers and appeared ready to, well, begin to make us forget about Tom Brady.
You also got a few more chits for your belt, including a first round pick at left guard and another weapon on the outside, Devante Parker.
Long-time special teams vet said this was your team last January. And from our perspective, it seemed plausible.
But then the summer happened and with sportswriters cataloging every pass, with pads, without pads, 7-on-7 or 11-on-11, or whatever, something wasn't right.
You were off a bit. You were confused a bit, at least much more than you appeared to be in your rookie year.
Some believe it's the new coaches and new offensive gameplans, focused on "zones" rather than defenders.
Whatever the case, you were nothing special in August.
Worse, though, you were part of the problem in Game 1 last Sunday in Miami.
Basically, the summer problems weren't just "preseason" hiccups. They were, possibly, signs.
Well, here comes the tough part; and this isn't totally fair either.
You had better play better. Much better. In Pittsburgh.
His first quarter interception and strip-sack/fumble were two of the three big plays of the game. The other was the 4th-and-7 touchdown converted at the end of the half.
He was a big part of the problem in Sunday's disappointing loss to the mediocre Dolphins.
Playing better, though, isn't really enough. He, his coach and his teammates really and truly need a "W."
This is a big rebound game for Mac. One of Brady's best traits was rebounding after a loss. Brady's career record after a regular season loss is 54-14 (80.0%), better than his career winning percentage (76.4%).
This is akin to scoring at the end of the half, or a fourth quarter drive to put the team ahead.
That's what this week is about for Jones.
Is it fair to put all that on a young, barely into-his-second guy?
No. But it could be a barometer of what's to come.
Ironically, Jones was 4-2 last year after a loss. Not bad.
If the Patriots win on Sunday in Pittsburgh, it doesn't mean that Jones is a franchise quarterback and the season is saved.
But it could be a sign. It could tell us a little more about Jones and about this team going forward. And let's not forget the head coach, too.
The Patriots need a win. Badly.
Is Jones good enough, in dire circumstances, in the Steel City, to get the job done?
I think he is.
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.