The New England Patriots selected Mac Jones with the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft hoping he would become the franchise quarterback to replace Tom Brady. Entering his third season, Jones might not even be the starter.
Jones showed franchise-caliber potential in his first season with the Patriots. He made the PFWA All-Rookie Team and landed a Pro Bowl selection after posting a 92.5 quarterback rating with a 67.5 percent completion rate. However, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels then left New England to become the Las Vegas Raiders head coach.
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Following McDaniels’ departure, Bill Belichick made Matt Patricia the offensive play-caller with Joe Judge working with the quarterbacks. The decision backfired, with Jones clashing with the coaching staff and New England finishing with one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
- Mac Jones stats (career): 6,798 passing yards, 36-24 TD-INT, 89.0 quarterback rating
Jones struggled, posting a 14-11 TD-INT line with his quarterback rating falling to 84.8 and his completion rate sinking to 65.2 percent. The 24-year-old’s struggles, especially in regard to protecting the football, resulted in Bailey Zappe getting an opportunity
- Bailey Zappe stats (2022): 100.9 quarterback rating, 5-3 TD-INT, 70.7% completion
New England allowed Jones to finish the season as its starting quarterback. Furthermore, the Patriots hired Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator this offseason to help Jones.
Despite several moves being made this spring that signal confidence in the former first-round pick, Belichick is now suggesting Jones might not be the starter in 2023.
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Asked by reporters this week if Jones and Zappe will be competing in training camp for the starting job, the Patriots coach didn’t answer it directly. However, his response suggests there will be an open competition.
“Everybody will get a chance to play. We’ll play the best players….Everybody that’s on our roster, if they earn the opportunity to play, then based on what they do in practice and all that, then they’ll get an opportunity to play.”New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on starting Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe in 2023 (H/T MassLive.com)
While being deceptive is nothing new for Belichick, refusing to commit to the quarterback who was drafted to be the face of the franchise is alarming. O’Brien wasn’t the best offensive coordinator available this offseason, but his ties to Jones made him a reasonable fit.
If Jones can’t earn the starting job in training camp and the Patriots’ offense struggles for a second consecutive year, it’s possible bigger changes will be made by the organization.
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