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Mac Jones throws pick-six, Ezekiel Elliott fumbles as New England Patriots struggle early

Needless to say, the New England Patriots are relying on third-year quarterback Mac Jones to overcome major struggles as a sophomore. Bill Belichick and Co. also signed Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott to provide him balance on offense.

Hosting the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles to open the season, things did not go swimmingly early on.

It started with an errant Jones pass intended for Kendrick Bourne falling into the hands of star Eagles cornerback Darius Slay. He ended up returning it 70 yards for a house call.

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Jones fancied himself as being accurate coming out of Alabama back in 2021. In fact, he completed 67% of his passes in two seasons with the Patriots. But that was about as inaccurate as you can get on what was a simple intermediate pass.

Related: Ranking Mac Jones and the NFL’s 32 starting QBs

On the Patriots’ next offensive play, Ezekiel Elliott joined Jones by turning the ball over. The three-time Pro Bowler put the ball on the turf, representing just his second fumble since the end of the 2020 season.

A veteran of Elliott’s ilk should understand to protect the ball better. Wet conditions or not, that’s not excusable in today’s NFL. Like clockwork, the Eagles responded by scoring another touchdown on a pass from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith to give Philadelphia a 17-0 lead.

This can’t be the way Belichick and Co. envisioned the 2023 season starting. Ouch!

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