Bill Belichick’s coaching and personnel decisions have failed Mac Jones in the quarterback’s second season. Should the Patriots signal-caller try to force his way out of New England?
That’s apparently the opinion of ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky. He tweeted Friday morning, following another ugly loss Thursday night to Buffalo, he believes Jones should take matters into his own hands and ask for a trade if the Patriots don’t improve his situation amid a woeful year of negative regression.
“If I was Mac Jones and his rep/teams and this offseason there are no plans for a true/proven (offensive coordinator) to come into (New England),” Orlovsky tweeted, “I would ask to be traded.”
That is a strong take, but it’s not totally without warrant. The Patriots spent a premium draft pick on Jones last season, taking him in the first round. Pairing him with Josh McDaniels made all the sense in the world, and an offseason spending spree last spring seemed to indicate Belichick and company were building something on that side of the ball.
Once McDaniels left to take the Las Vegas head coaching gig, however, things went off the rails and fast for the Patriots. The decision to turn the offense over to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge — despite their very clear lack of high-level experience in those positions — was roundly questioned and even mocked. The results thus far speak for themselves. The Patriots offense ranks 25th in DVOA and 26th by EPA per play.
Obviously, Jones has taken a step backward in all of this, too. A year ago, he finished second behind Ja’Marr Chase in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. This season, his QBR of 35.8 ranks 28th of 32 qualified quarterbacks, behind players like Kenny Pickett, Matt Ryan and even Zach Wilson. Only Wilson, Carson Wentz, Davis Mills and Baker Mayfield have a lower adjusted EPA per play.
And that lack of production doesn’t even take into account the cockamamie quarterback competition Belichick conjured out of thin air by a) not explicitly committing to Jones as his quarterback and b) having a quick hook in Jones’ first game back from an ankle injury.
However, Jones does need to shoulder at least some of the blame for his play this season. Whether it’s his attitude toward all the change, or maybe the McDaniels system made him look better than he actually is, he certainly hasn’t played to the standard he and the team expect.
It’s quite clear at this point, though, that the frustration is growing. Maybe Patricia isn’t long for the offensive play-calling job, and Jones will be allowed input on the next coordinator. That probably would help get things back in the right direction. If someone like Bill O’Brien, with whom Jones is familiar, was brought in to run the offense, that probably would go a long way in pacifying the quarterback.
Running it back with the same staff next season, though? It certainly would be fascinating to see it play out, and while Jones might not actually demand a trade, it’s hard to see any way in which that would make him happy given the way Year 1 of the experiment has played out.