The Mac Jones hype train might need a little maintenance.
The 23-year-old quarterback was riding high entering the New England Patriots' bye week, boasting a 70.3% completion rate (third in the NFL) and looking like the clear favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
But Jones appears to have hit a rookie wall: He completed just 43.8% of his passes for 145 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions in Sunday's disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills, which followed Jones' underwhelming effort in New England's Week 15 defeat against the Indianapolis Colts.
Jones has an ugly 51.4% completion rate with four interceptions in his last two games after throwing just one pick in his previous four contests. So, what's going on with the rookie?
Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel had a theory following Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium.
"There was just a lot of inconsistency today, especially with accuracy," Cassel said on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Postgame Live, as seen in the video above. "Normally his accuracy, his timing is what makes him tick, and you can see time and time again over the course of the game, he was just missing throws, whether it was Hunter Henry on the sail route or Henry (again) in the third quarter where he just overthrew a wide-open receiver.
"There were times when I felt he was flustered in the pocket. His feet weren't set. So, there's this thing going on with his mechanics, his technique. He's getting a little bit flustered where he's just missing some of these wide receivers."
Jones drew praise from his teammates earlier in the season for staying in the pocket and making throws in the face of pressure. But that pressure has thrown the rookie off his game in the last two weeks, disrupting the rhythm that made him so effective during the Patriots' seven-game winning streak.
Jones' last two opponents also deserve some credit: The Colts made a point of putting pressure on the young quarterback and recorded five QB hits on Jones, while the Bills deflected five of Jones' passes with four QB hits and a sack.
Buffalo likely noticed the success Indy had in putting the heat on Jones, and after another discouraging performance Sunday, that likely will be the blueprint for opposing defenses to stop Jones going forward. So, Jones and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will need to work on improving his mechanics under duress to help the No. 15 overall pick get back on track.