BOSTON -- Sunday marked a low point for Mac Jones and the entire Patriots offense. A unit that scored three touchdowns in Week 1, two touchdowns in Week 2, and one touchdown in Week 3 failed to find the end zone in Week 4 in Dallas, a game plagued by bad play at quarterback, offensive line, and just about everywhere else on the offensive side of the football.
It was about as bad as it can get. (We think.)
And while offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien acknowledged the issues at play last week, he kept a notably positive attitude when speaking with the media on Tuesday morning.
"None of us feel good about where we're at," O'Brien said. "We came into the season really believing what we're doing. We still have a strong belief in what we're doing. We feel like there are things that we're doing well, even though that might not look like it on the outside and we have to really build on those and make those happen more often."
Even in Sunday's game, when Jones threw two picks and lost a fumble in a game where the Patriots scored just three points, O'Brien saw those postives.
"Even though the score of the game was what it was, there were some things in the game that were -- again, I've said this a lot and you guys have heard it -- but there's glimpses of what we can be," O'Brien said. "We have to see more of that. Like on the first drive, I thought we moved the ball very effectively on the first drive. We got down there, we called a play-action pass on third down, didn't get it done. Probably could have executed, coached that play a little bit better to come away with a touchdown, but we did move the ball. There were other times where we moved the football -- the one where we moved the ball to midfield and didn't convert the fourth-and-1. So these aren't excuses. These are things that we think as we look at it like, 'Hey, how can we do this better? How can we do this more consistently?' And I think that's what coaching is about. Coaching is about teaching, motivating, and problem-solving. And we have to solve problems right now. The clock's ticking, we realize that, but we think that there's some things that we can do to improve."
Specifically with Jones, O'Brien likewise admitted that the quarterback played well below his capabilities on Sunday. But the coach still expressed belief in his quarterback.
"Mac's a battler. He's a competitor," O'Brien said. "When you play quarterback in this league, you have to limit the mistakes and you have to limit the bad games that you have, obviously. And we're all in it together. We've got to do a better job of coaching up some things with him a little bit better, he's got to do a better job of making good decisions for us. He knows that. He takes a lot of ownership. You guys saw that I think after the game. He blames himself. The game wasn't lost because of one guy. The game was lost on our part because of how poorly we played and coached in the game. And so, Mac is, he's here today, he's working very hard to get back on the right track. And you know, we have a lot of belief in Mac."
For as bad as Jones looked on Sunday in Dallas, O'Brien said it's his job to work with the quarterback to make it look better this coming weekend against New Orleans.
"We're gonna work really hard this week to improve some things. But I thought that last game for Mac, some of the decisions that he made were very uncharacteristic of Mac and I think he'll get back to doing it the way he knows how to do it," O'Brien said. "And he's just trying to make a play. He's wanting to win. He's very competitive. And maybe the plays weren't great, so I have to be involved in that big time with him. I understand that. And I think you'll see a lot of improvement in Mac as we keep moving forward here."
Through four weeks, the Patriots rank third-to-last in scoring in the NFL with just 13.8 points per game, scoring fewer points than the previous week in all of their games this season. They rank 24th in yards per play and 28th in rushing yards per attempt. And in the most alarming area of all, they have ended their drives with either a punt or turnover 71 percent of the time this season, most in the NFL.
After the Matt Patricia-Joe Judge fiasco of last season, O'Brien was brought in to deliver a level of stability and reliability to the offense. Through four weeks, that's been missing. For now, at least, the vision and confidence from O'Brien remains unshaken.
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