Is Patriots QB Mac Jones hitting a rookie wall? Here is Josh McDaniels' take

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  • New England Patriots
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Is Mac Jones hitting a rookie wall? Here is Josh McDaniels' take originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones isn't the sole reason why the New England Patriots have lost back-to-back games and no longer occupy first place in the AFC East -- far from it, actually -- but he needs to play better.

The rookie quarterback gave arguably his worst performance of the 2021 NFL season last Sunday in the Patriots' 33-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Jones has been one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league all year, but he completed just 14 of 32 pass attempts for 145 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Jones will make his 17th start of the season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played in 13 games as Alabama's starting quarterback last year. The NFL season is long and full of adversity, both physically and mentally.

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With just two touchdowns and four interceptions over his last three games, is Jones hitting a rookie wall? 

"He’s doing fine. No concern on that,” McDaniels said when asked during a Zoom call Tuesday. “Each rookie kind of handles that differently. There’s always a stretch during the course of the middle of the season that’s a little bit new to him, because when you count the preseason games, preseason work, starting in July, usually that happens somewhere towards the end of October, middle of November, somewhere around there. But he’s gotten through that. He understands what he needs to do."

Why is Mac Jones starting to struggle?

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McDaniels also praised Jones' preparation off the field each week.

"He does a great job with his regiment, takes care of his body," McDaniels said. "His preparation -- he's learned to manage his time and what he needs to allocate it toward. I think that's a really important thing for a young player.

"It just can't all be on the same thing. It's gotta be a balance between your preparation, taking care of your body, getting your rest, continuing to train and staying healthy. It's a process, and I think he's done a really good job of it. We continue to try and talk about that with all of our guys. I'm not concerned about that. He's ready to go and try to finish the season strong."

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The Patriots have a very favorable matchup un Week 17. They're hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars -- owners of the worst record in the NFL -- at Gillette Stadium. It's the perfect opportunity for Jones and the entire Patriots passing attack to get back on track and build much-needed momentum before the AFC playoffs begin in January.

The Patriots don't need Jones to play at an elite level to make a deep playoff run, but he must perform better than what we've seen over the last two weeks.