The day former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels walked out that door, it wasn’t a surprise that things would be different for Jones in Year 2, but whatever it was that Patricia was attempting to do with the offense had the No. 15 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft looking like a whiney little brat who couldn’t manage the offense.
Suddenly, Jones lost the trust of Bill Belichick. Not only did he allow his frustration to be shown, but he also went outside the organization for answers. That’s a no-no in the land of Belichick. But, in dealing with a high ankle sprain and watching Patriots fans fall in love with backup quarterback Baily Zappe, Jones had a reason for that frustration, but he was also the blame.
Patriots need a more mature Mac Jones in 2023
As bad as the offense looked with Patricia calling plays, it was the maturity of Jones that led Belichick to believe he could stick any coach in that position. It ultimately led to Jones regressing both on the field and off, but it could’ve been looked at as a compliment to the young quarterback that they believed he was capable to taking the offense to a different level.
That’s where the experiment failed for Belichick. To right that wrong, the Patriots brought back Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator to not only get the offense back to functioning, but to also get Mac Jones back on track. As the two are familiar with one another during their days at Alabama, Jones admitted that working with O’Brien has brought back the “normal.”
"“It’s been really good,” Jones said when asked about getting to know O’Brien. “I think everything he’s done so far has been really good. I think the communication is the most important part, and trust. I think it all starts with that when you’re with a new coach. He’s done a great job in controlling the room. I feel like everyone’s on the same page. We’ve just got to continue to do it; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So, we know that, and he’s obviously had great experience in the NFL and at Alabama where I was at, so there’s a lot of good stuff that we’ve talked about, and just looking forward to working with him.”"
Sounding mature, but also taking subtle shots at Patricia, Mac Jones has an opportunity to get back to the Mac Jones he was during his rookie season. With O’Brien and some more playmakers around him, he has an opportunity to take the step he was expected to take in Year 2.
A new year, a new challenge for Mac Jones
As Jones went on to point out during his conference with the media, a new year will bring new challenges and opportunity. To strive forward, he and the team needs to let last year be last year. Channeling Belichick, it’s on to 2023.
"“I think every year is a new year, right?,” Mac Jones said. “It’s a lot easier to say that after you have a really good year. Obviously, our goal is to win every game that we play and learn how to do that. I think some of the learning experiences I had last year will really help. There’s a lot of things I could do better. I know that as a person, as a player, there’s things I could grow upon. But really it’s about this year. We’ve got new faces in the room; it’s all about earning the respect of everybody, every day. So, I’m starting fresh just like everybody else is. I’m going to run my own race and look up at the end and see where I’m at. I think everyone else should do that, too.”"
In all, it’s about earning that respect and trust back from his head coach. The one thing Mac Jones needs to prove throughout OTAs, training camp and this summer is that he is the guy to lead the New England Patriots offense because Belichick will be looking for every and any reason why he is not the right guy.
Not only is he battling the competition of Zappe and perhaps even undrafted rookie QB Malik Cunningham, he is also battling the glare of Belichick. Jones will get his chance to prove himself and show Patriots fans and teammates what he’s made of. Year 3 is make or break for Mac Jones as an NFL quarterback.