This week was full of drama, not just for the Chicago Bears – who lost the most-viewed game of the week thanks to Taylor Swift, and in blowout fashion – but around the entire NFL.
One of the more…unique storylines was New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner accusing New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones of hitting him in the groin during the latter’s team’s 15-10 win in Week 3. The expectation is that Jones will avoid any suspension for the incident, which he claims was unintentional, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
“Sauce is one of the best corners in the NFL, so I have a lot of respect for him,” Jones said on “Jones and Mego” on September 25. “Nothing was intentional. I just got up and went back to the huddle, and that’s it. … It’s football so you’re just trying to get up and go back to the huddle.”
Not everyone is convinced, though.
“Nothing new,” posted Bears safety Jaquan Brisker on September 25, quoting a post from Gardner which the latter posted in defense of his shoving Jones to the ground.
Bears’ Jaquan Brisker on Mac Jones Low Blow: ‘Nothing New’
Nothing new. https://t.co/NXftBjowlb
— Quanny B. (@JaquanBrisker) September 25, 2023
Brisker and Jones have had their own run in, with the latter catching the former in the nether region during the Bears’ 33-14 win over the Patriots in Week 7 last season. And Brisker says Jones tried to take him down multiple times.
“Looking back, when he first slid, he had tried to trip me,” Brisker said Wednesday on the “Bernstein and Holmes Show” in October. “So, I feel like the second time was intentional. After looking back at the film, it looked intentional.”
Brisker did say that Jones came up to him and apologized after the game.
Patriots Mac Jones’ Reputation as a Dirty Player
Jones has a budding reputation for pushing the envelope that has even drawn the attention of former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins, among others.
“There’s a difference between playing to the echo of the whistle and then being a guy who’s a cheap-shot artist who’s dirty,” Wiggins said on the “Greg Hill Show” on September 26. “When Mac’s chasing behind a play and a guy’s running behind him, and he’s nowhere in the play and then he drops down and cuts the guy, that’s a dirty play.”
Former Patriots EDGE Chris Long also weighed in.
“Top 5 dirtiest QB all time,” Long posted in another quote of Gardner’s tweet while ESPN’s Dianna Russini provided footage of a closer angle of the contact in question which the league has reviewed for the matter.
Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner said after the game against the Patriots that Mac Jones hit him in the “private parts.”This video sent from a league source is a closer view. pic.twitter.com/UTayhuu6iB
— Dianna Russini (@DMRussini) September 25, 2023
The Bears will not face the Patriots this year barring a miraculous run to the Super Bowl.
Bears’ Justin Fields vs. Patriots’ Mac Jones
There is a growing belief the Bears could be reaching a breaking point with Justin Fields. Even if it were of little to no fault of his own – it’s not, he does have culpability – the fact is the results have not been there to this point.
Jones was a rumored potential target in the 2021 draft that saw him fall to the No. 15 overall pick after the Bears traded up to No. 11 to select Fields.
Their numbers paint an interesting picture.
Jones has the decided edge with a 17-17 career record to 5-23 for Fields. The Patriots passer has also thrown for 2,908 more yards in 412 more attempts, and he is completing his passes at a 66.3% clip to Fields’ 59.5% rate with 14 more passing touchdowns (41 to 27). Fields’ rushing – a 1,388-yard advantage and a plus-10 scoring edge – closes some of that gap.
He has also added 11 scores on the ground to one for the far less mobile Jones while throwing one fewer interception. Therein lies the issue, though, with Fields’ interception rate 1.3% higher than Jones’ and the Bears QB committing 31 fumbles to just 12 for Jones.
Fields already has three fumbles this season – a 17-fumble pace.
With so many factors contributing to a quarterback’s record, controlling the things he can control such as turning the ball over has to be a priority for Fields.