3. Mac Jones
This is a pivotal season for Jones as well, who has a lot to prove after his disappointing 2022 campaign. Can he still be the player who was a first-round pick and a Pro Bowler back in 2021?
If he can’t, it’s probably time for the Patriots to move on. They have a solid backup in Bailey Zappe who can step in if Jones isn’t getting the job done, and Zappe probably deserves a longer look anyway after his brief but stellar run when Jones was hurt last year. Can Zappe play like that for more than a few games? Malik Cunningham is an intriguing option as well.
There’s always the chance that Belichick could bench Jones for attitude reasons as well. Jones was frequently caught mouthing off to the coaching staff last year and rubs some people in the organization the wrong way. Belichick has been quick to chew Jones out at training camp this year and doesn’t seem to particularly like his young quarterback. If Belichick needs to sit Jones to teach him a lesson about respecting authority, then so be it.
Jones took Cam Newton’s starting job when he arrived, so he knows first-hand that the QB job is never safe. Unlike Tom Brady, Jones doesn’t have a trophy case full of awards and championships to fall back on. Jones has never even won a playoff game yet, so his leash could be relatively short.
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