This article originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports+: Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones has 'no excuses' to explain growing pains

Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones has 'no excuses' to explain growing pains

Richard Morin

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones enriched his offensive line with gifts of Bitcoin for Christmas, but the next day his own stock declined.

Accuracy was Jones' calling card during the Patriots' seven-game winning streak Weeks 7-13. But, he was uncharacteristically wide of the mark during Sunday's 33-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. 

"If the guy is open, you're supposed to throw it to him and he's supposed to catch the ball," Jones said after the game. "If I can't hit him in the hands, then he's not going to be able to catch the ball. The accuracy needs to improve."

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The rookie quarterback was visibly upset after the game. He completed 14 of 32  passes and didn't throw a touchdown. He also tossed two interceptions.

Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver (91) in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Although quick to point out his own shortcomings, Jones kept his postgame comments brief and blunt — almost Belichickian in nature.

"I think we just need to execute better," Jones said. "It really just wasn't our day. But there's no excuses and there's really nothing to talk about. I didn't play great. I can play better and I can lead a lot better. It starts with me, so we'll just have to look in the mirror and address what we can and just keep working to get better every day."

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The loss was a massive blow to the Patriots' postseason hopes. They dropped out of the top spot in the AFC East with two games to play, and if the playoffs started Monday, New England would be forced to play on the road in the wild card round.

Jones' growing pains arrived at an inopportune time. Entering Sunday, he had completed 69% of his passes.

Jones averaged a 97.1 quarterback rating through New England's Week 12 win over the Tennessee Titans. During the three games since, Jones averaged a 63.2 quarterback rating. And Sunday, he turned in a season-worst 31.4 rating.

Jones, a Florida native who starred at the University of Alabama, was asked after the game whether the cold weather impacted his throwing ability.

"I think it just goes back to execution," Jones said. "Throwing it to the right guy, regardless of the weather. I'm still learning obviously. I don't think there's any excuses."

If frigid conditions are to blame, Jones is likely thrilled the Patriots finish their season on the road against the Miami Dolphins after a Week 16 date with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Foxborough.

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Struggles aside, Jones seems to have the support of his teammates. Patriots center David Andrews called Jones "tough" and said the rookie "does a great job of standing in there."

Jones also received high marks for gifting his linemen Bitcoin, a print subscription to Bitcoin Magazine and passes to the Bitcoin 2022 conference.

"He did a great job," Patriots guard Ted Karras told reporters Friday. "We got a big haul over here. It's a myriad of items, each one cooler than the next. I'm very thankful to be his teammate during this Christmas season.

"He's been a huge part of our season, a leader and someone I admire and enjoy blocking for."