Colts’ comments about Mac Jones reveal how teams view Pats rookie originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Mac Jones has far exceeded expectations for the New England Patriots this season. But he’s still a rookie.
The Indianapolis Colts seemed eager to capitalize on Jones’ inexperience in Week 15. A few days before the game, Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke said Indy’s plan was to make New England “one-dimensional” and force Jones to beat them through the air.
The latest episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which aired earlier this week and detailed the Colts’ preparation for the Patriots, reveals a similar mindset behind the scenes.
Cassel: Mac Jones has earned the right to be Pats’ vocal leader
“He’s a good player. He’s accurate and everything. But he’s a rookie, so he’ll do some things like this,” Colts linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi told his players in a film session while highlighting a Jones mistake (h/t to ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “Stop the run. Make this guy play quarterback. You guys good on that?”
Colts defensive line coach Brian Baker told his players that Jones likes to get rid of the ball quickly — similar to his famous New England predecessor.
“The quarterback gets rid of the ball once pressured,” Baker said. “It’s like ridiculous. He’s No. 1 in the league under pressure getting rid of the ball. He’s the same as Tom Brady. Same coach. ‘Stay healthy. Get rid of it. Next play.'”
Baker and head coach Frank Reich both emphasized putting pressure on Jones, which they highlighted as the key to flustering the Patriots rookie.
“We really want this guy to be anxious about people in his face,” Baker said. “It’s to pressure him, to make him hurry up everything. He has to feel this anxiety the entire game.”
“I’m just telling you, I know this is true: For us to go where we want to go, let’s make this rookie QB feel something that he hasn’t felt from a defense before,” Reich said. “Let’s get after this rookie quarterback.”
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The Colts succeeded in their game plan, recording five QB hits on Jones and intercepting him twice in a 27-17 victory. They kept New England’s run game in check (19 rushes for 81 yards), and Jones wasn’t able to beat them through the air.
While Jones has played well at times this season, he still has plenty of room for improvement, so other NFL defenses likely will follow Indy’s blueprint by forcing the rookie to beat them.
The Patriots operates a “game plan” offense, though, so expect offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to come up with creative ways for Jones to beat opponents in the passing game — starting this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.