The New England Patriots are entering uncharted territory this offseason, needing to make a number of decisions that will effect the immediate and long-term future of the franchise.
Things have gotten off to a solid start, as Bill Belichick reportedly has revamped his coaching staff after one of the most dysfunctional and disappointing seasons in his tenure as head coach. The Patriots’ path toward sustained success appears to be much clearer than it was at the conclusion of the 2022-23 regular season.
There’s still one major question on the mind of those outside the facility, however. What is Mac Jones’ future in New England?
Jones is just two seasons into his pro career, but his second season was as disastrous as one could imagine. After leading his team to the playoffs as a rookie, Jones dealt with injuries, an incompetent coaching staff, a severe drop off in on-field production and calls for his job, all while being criticized for his handling of those obstacles. That has been enough for many to wonder if the best option for all parties is to just move on.
So, are the Patriots looking to make a move at quarterback in 2023?
“Great question. Absolutely, positively not,” Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston said Wednesday, per the Rich Eisen Show. “That would happen over Robert Kraft’s dead body. We’ll talk about that in 2024 if it’s another mediocre season.
“But this notion that the Patriots would move on from Mac Jones after last July at the outset of training camp, when Bill Belichick talked about how Mac Jones made a drastic improvement from an already highly impressive rookie year. If they want to move on from him and his $4.36 million salary or whatever it is, because of what happened in 2022. Well, who’s holding the smoking gun for what happened? The coach.”
In framing the potential move the way he did, Curran makes a strong case for the Patriots to try and make things work with Jones. If that wasn’t enough, let him paint a picture for you.
“If (Belichick) walked to Robert Kraft and said, ‘Yeah I’m thinking of moving on from Mac here, he was really surly.’ I think Robert Kraft would say, ‘Are you out of your mind? He’s making $4 million. He was a good player last year, he’s a bad player now. You want to move on from him? Why is that?’ And (Belichick) would have to say, ‘Well, because we did nothing to help him.’ “
He’s got quite the point.
Jones undoubtedly was set up for failure in 2022-23. The 24-year-old was placed in a brand-new system under Matt Patricia, a defensive-minded coach in his first season as an offensive play caller, and proceeded to free fall. An early injury didn’t help, and Jones certainly isn’t being let off the hook for his abhorrent behavior and awful decision making, but it’s hard to give up on a player after two seasons that provided such varying levels of success.
The hope is that 2023-24 will provide a closer look into which season was the outlier. That would be a positive, no matter how things shake out, but the Patriots at least have to give Jones a chance to show who he really is.