Bill O'Brien downplays Mac Jones' struggles as 'uncharacteristic'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said he views Mac Jones' most recent performance, which led to the quarterback being pulled by head coach Bill Belichick late in the third quarter, as an outlier this season.

Jones threw two interceptions in Sunday's 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, one of which was dangerously delivered across the field and returned for a touchdown, and also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown while attempting to run away from pressure.

"Some of the decisions that he made were very uncharacteristic of Mac," O'Brien told reporters Tuesday in his weekly news conference. "He's just trying to make a play, he's wanting to win, he's very competitive. I think you'll see a lot of improvement in Mac as we keep moving forward here."

Belichick said after Sunday's game -- the most lopsided loss of his head-coaching career -- that Jones is still New England's top quarterback heading into the Patriots' Week 5 home game against the New Orleans Saints.

O'Brien, who was hired in the offseason to help aid in Jones' development entering his third NFL season, stressed that "everyone is in it together" when it comes to Jones getting back on track.

"Mac is a battler," O'Brien said. "He is a competitor. When you play quarterback in this league, you have to limit the mistakes and you have to limit the bad games you have, obviously.

"We have to do a better job of coaching up some things with him. He has to do a better job of making good decisions for us. He knows that. He takes a lot of ownership -- you 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. ... We have a lot of belief in Mac; I think he'll get back to doing it the way he knows how to do it."

Jones is 93-of-146 for 898 yards, with five touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He has been sacked seven times, and the Patriots -- navigating a monthslong struggle with injuries -- have had four different offensive line configurations playing in front of him.

O'Brien noted the second quarter Sunday was the turning point, saying that is when Jones and the Patriots' offense got away from the basics.

"You can't let things get out of hand, and that's what happened, because we didn't do a good enough job of stemming the tide and fixing things right away and going back to our fundamentals," O'Brien said. "... You always have to play mentally within yourself. It doesn't mean that you can't take calculated risks; it just means that you have to do a really good job of making sure that you understand what we're trying to do on every play and executing that play to the best of your ability at a high level, and take what the defense gives you.

"I would say, for the most part, Mac does that. We're going to work really hard this week to improve some things."