FOXBORO -- Mac Jones' third NFL season was supposed to be the year that he put it all together. Instead, the quarterback has regressed and is now in jeopardy of losing his job.
Jones can't be feeling too good about himself after being benched in the final minutes of a four-point game last Sunday in Germany. The crushing interception that he threw right to the Colts in the red zone led to Bill Belichick sitting his starting quarterback when the Patriots had one final chance a few minutes later, and was Jones' third benching of the season.
It's unclear if Jones will still have the starting job when New England returns from its bye week. But starter or not, it's obvious that Jones needs to get his confidence back before he can have any success on the field. Just ask a former Patriots great.
"It's just been tough for Mac to execute in high-pressure situations and it comes down to his confidence," three-time Super Bowl champ Julian Edelman said on an appearance on The Herd on Fox Sports. "He's lost his confidence, and once you lose your confidence in this league, it's tough."
Edelman is drawing off his own experience. It took him until his fifth season to really emerge as a dangerous receiving threat for New England, and he experienced plenty of bumps to reach that point.
"I remember there were a couple of times where, you drop a ball or something here or there, and you start thinking about it the next play," he said. "'Easy play, oh this is going to be easy.' And when you're thinking about things, it's not allowing you to play fast. It's not allowing your subconscious to kick in and instincts to play the game for you. And that's what it's been right now. He's just lost his confidence. It sucks for him, but, you know, that's what's happened."
Edelman overcame his own lack of confidence -- and plenty of tongue lashings from Tom Brady -- to become one of the most clutch receivers in Patriots history. Perhaps Jones can do the same, after that he received from Bill O'Brien last Sunday.
While the Patriots' offensive line has been a mess and the team is severely lacking playmakers at the wide receiver position, Edelman isn't letting Jones off the hook for all of his struggles.
"If you're a guy, you're a guy," Edelman explained. "I'm not going to come out here and just bash on Мас. Yeah, it's been terrible for the whole unit. One play it's the offensive line, one play the receiver slips, one play the receiver drops the ball, there's a bad throw and collectively they're not doing well. But this is the National Football League. If you don't win, the quarterback and the head coach get the blame.
"This is a production business, ok? And everyone keeps on wanting to say, 'Oh, he's had three offensive coordinators,'" continued Edelman. "He's really only had two offensive coordinators. I had Billy O'Brien and Josh McDaniels. That's the same scheme. There's a couple of wrinkles here and there, but you're fundamentally doing the same things."
Jones and the Patriots practiced Wednesday, when he took snaps with New England's first team. We'll see if he remains in that spot when the Pats return to practice next week, and whether or not a weekend away from football did anything to help the quarterback's psyche.
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