New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones arrived for camp this summer with teammates and coaches raving about his leadership and improvements heading into his second NFL season. Amid uncertainty regarding the Patriots’ offensive play-calling, the buzz provided fans with a reason for optimism.
The tone has shifted ever since. Jones has struggled in training camp, often left to deal with the repercussions of numerous changes made by head coach Bill Belichick. When Josh McDaniels left for the Las Vegas Raiders, he brought with him many of New England’s top assistants on that side of the ball.
Instead of filling out the coaching staff with experienced position coaches and a proven offensive coordinator, Belichick made Matt Patricia the play-caller and offensive line coach. Meanwhile, Joe Judge became quarterbacks coach and shared some play-calling duties despite lacking any NFL experience in either spot.
It already created uncertainty regarding how this offense would look in 2022. Things only got worse in training camp when players struggled to pick up the new scheme and the offensive line struggled in nearly every practice. All of these issues were evident during the preseason and have now raised concerns about how Jones will perform in his second year.
Patriots reporter Chad Graff of The Athletic wrote that there is reason to believe Jones isn’t prepared for his second NFL season and highlighted areas of concern that could show up in Week 1.
“His new de facto offensive coordinator has never coordinated on that side of the ball, his offensive line has been a mess and he’s had little to no running game throughout the preseason. Maybe that explains the struggles for the starting offense in training camp. But it’s also not entirely fair to absolve Jones. He threw a bad interception against the Raiders that was right at a waiting linebacker. There’s still plenty of time for Jones to turn things around and deliver a great season, but it was far from the preseason he and the team were hoping for.Chad Graff of The Athletic on New England Patriots QB Mac Jones
The Patriots have downplayed skepticism of their offense this summer, with Belichick and Judge both pointing to the preseason simply being an evaluation period for players. While the spotlight is on the team’s struggles in three exhibition contests, the feeling inside the facility is very different.
However, there are several reasons to question whether or not the Patriots have put Jones in the best position to succeed this season.
Why Mac Jones might struggle in 2022
A fair evaluation of the Patriots roster would identify no true standout skill player around Jones. New England’s receiving corps is below-average, lacking a true No. 1 receiver and there are clear flaws with the likes of DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Tyquan Thornton and Kendrick Bourne.
- Mac Jones stats (2021): 3,801 passing yards, 67.6% completion rate, 22-13 TD-INT ratio, 92.5 QB rating
Already lacking a top-35 wide receiver in the NFL, Belichick’sheavy investments in tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith also look questionable after the 2021 season. While both players produce in their specified roles, neither is the type of talent a defensive coordinator must spend time strategizing against.
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Jones was the best rookie quarterback last year and it wasn’t close. He fit into McDaniels’ scheme nicely and performed when kept clean.
|Mac Jones splits||QB Rating||PFF grade||Completion Rate||YPA||Clean Pocket Rate|
Compared to his peers, Jones’ stats when under duress are above-average. However, New England allowed the fewest pressures (116) in the NFL last season. Nothing evaluators have seen this summer would suggest the pass protection will be nearly as good in 2022.
It’s reasonable to expect Jones to be under pressure far more often this season and he won’t have a play-caller who is familiar with making adjustments in response. Only making things worse, there isn’t that game-changing offensive weapon to make a play when everything breaks down.
There shouldn’t be any surprises if Jones disappoints in 2022 and it should be a reflection on Belichick’s decisions this offseason far more than the second-year quarterback.