FOXBORO (CBS) — Mac Jones has played in some big games during his football career, including a few do-or-die tilts during his final year at Alabama. That ended with a perfect season and a national title.
He’s had a few big games during his rookie season with the Patriots, like when he had to square off against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on national TV in Week 4, or his first Monday Night Football in Buffalo in Week 13, and again against Buffalo with the AFC East on the line in Week 16.READ MORE: A Loophole In NFL's Penalty For Hitting Defenseless Receiver Was Exposed On Eric Weddle-Mike Evans Hit
Now he’s got another showdown with the Bills on tap, and this time it happens to be Jones’ first career playoff game. The 23-year-old admitted to feeling some postseason butterflies on Wednesday, but he’s confident they’ll no longer be fluttering around by kickoff on Saturday night.
“Preparation helps eliminate that,” Jones told reporters on Wednesday, following the team’s first practice of the postseason. “The plan is to be really prepared and continue to do what we do every week to feel that way. That’s the goal; to prepare hard and go out and produce. If you put that all together, good things should happen.”
He’s also got a pretty experienced head coach in Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, both of whom have partaken in a few postseason matchups over the years.
“Yeah, it is not their first rodeo. They’ve been through a lot of really close games in these situations,” said Jones. “I’m just trying to listen to the advice they have, whether it’s Josh, coach Belichick, or the older players who have done this before. It’s another game but there is a lot at stake and you have to realize there is not a lot of room for error. That’s what makes it fun, there is more pressure. You prepare for the pressure and then you go play the game that you’ve been playing since you’ve been little.”READ MORE: Bengals Have Rookie Kicker Evan McPherson Thanks In Large Part To Patriots' Draft Day Trade
Good things have happened for Jones during his rookie campaign, but he’s hit a bit of a wall as of late. He struggled down the stretch as New England dropped three of its last four games, completing just under 60 percent of his passes while tossing six touchdowns and five interceptions over that stretch. His only good game was a three-touchdown afternoon against the Jaguars, while all six of those picks came in losses to the Colts (two interceptions), the Bills (two again) and a horrid pick-six in Week 18 in Miami.
Jones said he was embarrassed following Sunday’s regular season finale, and said Wednesday that he needs to do a much better job sticking to his reads and leading the offense. The end of the season isn’t the best time to be struggling, especially with a postseason clash against a divisional opponent that has picked up quite a bit of intel on the rookie during the regular season.
At least he has two games against the Bills to draw from, and has a really good idea about the challenges that Buffalo’s stellar defense pose to the New England offense.
“You see the effort they play with. They’re never going to quit and they’re always flying to the ball,” said Jones. “You see it on tape and see it on the field. They do a lot of things really well and don’t have a lot of issues. They’re really good all around. They’ve played a lot of snaps together as a group, not only this year against us but as a whole. It’s going to take 60 minutes.
“They understand what they need to do and we’re going to go out and do what we need to do,” he added. “We have the utmost respect or them. The other times are other times and this is a new opportunity for both teams.”MORE NEWS: Rob Gronkowski Needs A Few Weeks To Decide On His Future, But Hints He May Still Play Even If Tom Brady Retires
Tune in to Saturday night’s Patriots-Bills Wild Card game on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 6:30pm with Patriots GameDay, the Pats and the Bills kick off around 8:15pm, and after the game stick around for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!