Patriots Coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Mac Jones during the second half last Sunday against Philadelphia. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Mac Jones took it on the chin.

No one took the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles harder than the Patriots’ quarterback. He felt he was to blame and let everyone know about it.

Standing at the postgame podium, Jones said he let the Patriots “down” on five occasions Sunday.

What hurt him the most was how the defense performed against Jalen Hurts and a pair of talented Eagles receivers.

“Just felt like I let the defense down,” Jones said. “And I’ll have to live with that.”

The words resonated with players inside the  locker room. Entering Year 3, in which he’s now a two-time captain, Jones has become a locker-room favorite. Players appreciate the accountability, but the Patriots weren’t blaming their captain.


By now they know how much this quarterback cares.

“I think it’s very honorable for him to say that. It’s very selfless,” defensive lineman Deatrich Wise said. “I know he holds himself to a very high standard, but I don’t think it’s all him. It’s a team sport. A lot of guys did a lot of things that we would have liked to improve on. I know he takes it on his shoulders as most leaders do. At the same time, there’s things we could have done on defense to stop that as well.

“I’ll tell him, ‘you don’t need to take that blame. We’ve got your back.’ ”

Most people don’t see the work Jones puts in behind the scenes. He’s is a film junkie. He loves the game. He puts in extra work after practice. Patriots defensive players see that. Even after a frustrating 2022 season, players on that side of the ball weren’t blaming their quarterback.

That theme continued this week.

“You love that and you can tell it means something to Mac,” said safety Jabrill Peppers. “He’s a fiery guy, competitive guy and most importantly, he wants to win and loves to win. I wouldn’t say he let us down. We had some plays out there where if we make those plays, they don’t score points.”


The theme of Sunday felt similar to last season. The offense started slow with two turnovers and three three-and-outs in the first five drives. Jones had a costly turnover with a pick-6 to Darius Slay on an inaccurate pass. The two offensive turnovers led to two Eagles touchdowns, putting the Patriots in an early hole.

Conversely, the defense held its own against one of the best quarterbacks (Hurts) and receiver tandems (A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith) in the NFL. After the two offensive turnovers, the defense allowed four field goals for 12 points to the defending NFC champions.

The unit also made a game-changing play when Peppers forced a fumble on Hurts with 3:35 left. That gave Jones and the offense a golden opportunity to win the game. After a failed fourth-down conversion attempt, the defense did it again by getting the ball back to its quarterback with 1:57 left. Again, Jones and his group didn’t finish.

For Jones, those missed opportunities stung.

“(Peppers) told me to go win it, and we couldn’t, and that hurts me,” Jones said.

By Monday, the Patriots turned the page to the Miami Dolphins. Defensive players said they appreciated the words from their quarterback but didn’t feel it was necessary. After rewatching the game, players noted there were multiple mistakes on both sides of the ball.


“It was a team thing. He can’t take all the blame,” said linebacker Jahlani Tavai. “There’s other things we could’ve done better. He did his best and right now I’m not even worried about that. I’m on to Miami.”

On Wednesday, Jones said he lives by a “24-hour rule.” When the team wins, he enjoys it. When they lose, he learns from it. After one day it’s time to move on. His coach, Bill Belichick, is doing the same.

“None of us felt good after the game. We all wish we could have done a little bit more,” Belichick said when asked about Jones’ accountability. “So I think everybody’s in that category. We’re done with the Eagles. That game’s over with, so we’re moving on.”

That’s what the Patriots are doing this week, but Jones earned respect in the locker room for his actions and words following Sunday’s loss.

“He’s just a leader. I think anybody that’s a true competitor who feels like that had a chance to win a game, wants to be in that moment, when they don’t succeed, you’re (not happy),” said Adrian Phillips. “Anytime you have a quarterback who’s a true leader like that, it makes you feel good.”

“You love when guys take accountability,” said Peppers. “Especially your quarterback.”


OFFENSIVE LINEMEN Trent Brown and Sidy Sow, both of whom are in concussion protocol, were absent from practice for the second straight day Thursday for the Patriots.

Center David Andrews, who popped up on the injury report with a hamstring ailment Wednesday, was present. He was spotted in the  locker room Wednesday with a sleeve over his left leg but appears to be moving fine.

It’s looking increasingly more likely that Brown and Sow will miss Sunday night’s game against the Dolphins. Left guard Cole Strange (knee) and right guard Mike Onwenu (ankle) didn’t play against the Eagles and both remained on the injury report.

Calvin Anderson, Vederian Lowe, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and rookies Jake Andrews and Atonio Mafi are the only fully healthy offensive linemen on the Patriots’ 53-man roster. The team also has offensive linemen James Ferentz, Kody Russey and Andrew Stueber on the practice squad.

Wide receivers Kayshon Boutte (hamstring) and DeVante Parker (knee) were limited in Wednesday’s practice, but both were present Thursday.

MIAMI QUARTERBACK Tua Tagovailoa has had his way with the Patriots since debuting in the NFL. But if you ask about his 4-0 record against New England, it isn’t his main thought.

Miami comes to Gillette Stadium for Week 2 and Tagovailoa, even though those numbers work in his favor, focused on the game ahead.

“Every year is a new year. 4-0, 0-4, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. I don’t think those guys care. I don’t think my teammates care,” Tagovailoa told reporters on Wednesday. “They care about this year and what problems that team has to offer us in offense, defense and special teams. We’re looking for a tough game. It’s always tough to go on the road against a team like that. It’s against a Bill Belichick-coached team. You never know what to expect.”

In Week 1, Tagovailoa threw for 416 yards, including what would be the winning 47-yarder to Tyreek Hill with under two minutes to play in a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

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