2022 was far from a great sophomore season for Mac Jones. The former first-round pick from the University of Alabama Crimson Tide began his NFL career with a solid rookie year in which he was a finalist for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It was a bounce-back season for the Patriots, who had previously faded from relevance after Tom Brady left them for Tampa Bay.
Second seasons for any NFL player, especially quarterbacks, are extremely important to their development. They often prove whether the quarterback will continue to build upon their solid rookie year or buckle under the rising pressure of playing professional football on a big stage. Whether it was his fault or not, Mac Jones’ second season was the ladder.
There were several questions surrounding New England going into the 2022 season. Many were unsure whether Jones was surrounded by capable receivers. There was also heavy doubt in the offensive coaching staff composed of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two coaches with little to no valuable experience on the offensive side of the ball.
Jones struggled mightily with these factors contributing greatly to his lack of production. According to rumors, Jones decided to seek advice outside the Patriots’ coaching staff during the season because he had lost faith in his own coaches’ abilities to improve his game. This did not sit right with head coach Bill Belichick.
Despite most signs pointing towards Jones’ struggles resulting from problematic coaching and personnel decisions, recent reports suggest Belichick has been sniffing around the league to see what he might be able to get from trading the young QB.
For many Patriots fans, this news is very welcome. Some felt that Jones’ problems in 2022 were not completely the fault of the coaching staff or receiving squad, but rather Jones’ fault himself. That is not an unreasonable argument, considering the inconsistency he displayed in reading NFL defenses.
But there’s another group of Patriots fans who will be unhappy with these rumors. They argue Jones’ poor play is completely the result of the personnel around him. Given his successful rookie season where he had slightly better weapons and was backed by the offensive guru Josh McDaniels, this is also not unreasonable. It’s not like he hasn’t shown promise.
So, what does this mean for the Patriots in 2023? Well, there’s absolutely no guarantee that Mac Jones is traded. New England probably won’t be able to get much in return for him at this point, considering his lackluster 2022 season. As of right now, it’s likely he returns as the starting quarterback next September.
But that job isn’t completely solidified even if he does remain on the team. Bailey Zappe, when stepping in for Jones due to injury last season, was impressively efficient. Fans even started chanting his name once Jones returned, begging New England to play the rookie more.
But it must also be considered how Jones will take all this news. His relationship with the Patriots’ coaching staff was already rocky, but now that it seems he may be unwanted, Jones may not want to stay in New England anyways.