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Mac Jones says he’s feeling ‘shot in the heart’ amid the Patriots’ offensive struggles

The New England Patriots starting defense has taken complete control of 11-on-11 drills since the team put on pads on Monday. The Patriots have only had two practices in pads, but Mac Jones and the offense have clearly come up short against the defense, which has locked down receivers and blown up the offensive line at the line of scrimmage.

“We have a lot of room to grow here,” Jones said Tuesday after practice.

Jones was visibly frustrated following practice on Monday when the offense simply could not get anything going in an abbreviated practice session where backup quarterback Bailey Zappe got more opportunities. And although Jones was in higher spirits on Tuesday, his offensive unit didn’t look much better.

“When you lose the day, to me, it’s like a shot in the heart. It’s like we lost the game,” Jones said. “It’s a lot more than that because it’s practice and we have to learn. But at the end of the day, we’re out here competing and the goal is to have more good plays than the other team and that’s the defense right now. … Better days ahead, but we’re in the beginning of this thing and we’ve got to get it going. We’ll just take it day by day.”

So what’s happening exactly?

Well, the Patriots aren’t likely to say exactly what is leading to these growing pains. But we know the team is changing its offense and while Bill Belichick said he was streamlining it, the adjustments are clearly much more substantial. Jones confirmed Tuesday they’re using new formations — and smart football minds (like the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan) can see those formations are similar to the Los Angeles Rams offense under Sean McVay. New England is also running the outside zone run scheme — in the same vein as the San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan.

Because the Patriots are running a new offense, they are installing it for the first time in pads this week. That means the offense is running scripted plays to see how they look. They’re not at the point where they’re running audibles.

“Right now, we’re just trying to run our base plays,” Jones said.

Eventually, the Patriots hope to hit a point where they’re making use of the skill players who are, in 7-on-7s and 1-on-1s, beating defenders with great regularity. Receivers DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton and Jakobi Meyers have looked impressive during drills. They’ve all flashed big plays. But New England needs to find a way to take that individual work and convert it into 11-on-11 drills with the linemen on the field.

“We need to spread the ball out to them,” Jones said. “That’s the whole point of this offense is, get the ball to different people and not key in on one person and spread the wealth and let those guys run after the catch.”

The bad news is that their starting point is not impressive. The good news is that football — real, regular-season football — doesn’t start for another month.


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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire