The New England Patriots will need Mac Jones to snap out of his recent funk when they visit the Buffalo Bills for Saturday night's Wild Card game.
Jones struggled mightily in the final weeks of the regular season, resulting in the Patriots losing three of their last four games. It'll be crucial for the rookie quarterback to regain his confidence as he prepares for his first career playoff appearance.
Josh McDaniels' playcalling will be worth keeping an eye on early in the contest. Phil Perry believes the Patriots offensive coordinator will have to prioritize making Jones comfortable right out of the gate with calls that will boost his confidence. He explained to Tom E. Curran and Matt Cassel on the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.
"It's going to be really interesting to see how the playcalling transpires over the course of the game, especially early, for Josh McDaniels," Perry said. "Because if you're gonna go run, run, pass, that's not necessarily putting your quarterback in the best position to succeed. Because if one of those gets stuffed, now all of a sudden it's third-and-long on your first drive of the game and you've got to try to make a play against a really good defense.
"So, early on, do they try to figure out a way to make it easier for him? Do they use play-action on first down? Do they throw on first down a little bit? If you're throwing on running downs and able to run on third down, then that can make a quarterback's life a little bit easier. Do they dip into some more creative things early on? Do they use some end-arounds early on? Those have been some of their best plays all year. Pick up a nice chunk play early and get yourself into some second-and-short and allow him to kind of get into a rhythm of the game before you really heap this difficult third-and-five situation on his shoulders when you're only two minutes into the first quarter. That's something that I'll be looking for. Just trying to find ways to make him more comfortable."
Also discussed in this episode: Does Cassel agree with Kurt Warner’s assessment of Mac Jones making decisions too quickly? Is there concern Jones might not be “the guy” for the Patriots? Previewing Patriots-Bills. WIll the weather benefit the Pats?