Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) grabs Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns (53) after fumbling the ball in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the talk this season surrounding New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has been about whether or not he’ll be able to lead the franchise to victory. Suddenly, that talk has shifted to whether or not the rookie is a dirty player.

The reason came about on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers when, following a strip sack, Jones appeared to reach out and grab the ankle of defender Brian Burns. Jones either appears to twist the ankle or is simply grabbing it to prevent Burns from recovering the fumble, depending on how you interpret it.

Burns left the game momentarily and went to the sideline medical tent but returned. Later in the fourth quarter, he had to be helped off the field due to an injury to that same ankle. It was unclear if the two things were related.

After the game, Panthers defender Haason Reddick said the move was “dirty” and hoped the NFL would address it.

“Definitely thought it was a dirty play,” Reddick said. “I actually saw and witnessed the play while it was happening. At first, it felt like he was trying to trip or kick Burns. And the next thing you know I saw him tugging on Burns’ ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully, it’s something the league addresses.’

“For no penalty, nothing to be thrown, it’s egregious, I think it’s unfair. I really do hope the league addresses it.”

It does not appear as though the league is going to punish Jones too harshly. Tom Pelissero of NFL Media said the NFL will review the play, and Jones “faces a possible fine, but nothing more than that.”

A close-up of the move hit Twitter on Monday and provides a clear view of Jones grabbing Burns’ leg. Burns then twists around and falls.

There were some very strong reactions to the play across social media as many people have made up their minds about Jones’ intentions.

While Jones hasn’t commented on the play, Patriots coach Bill Belichick defended his quarterback, saying that he thought that Jones figured Burns had the ball and was trying to tackle him.

Intentional or not, it sure seems like the Carolina Panthers and other defenders around the league are going to remember this one and keep it handy the next time they line up against Jones. Good luck, Mac.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to