Is Mac Jones the Patriots’ starting quarterback? That’s one of the most important and hotly debated questions of this New England offseason.
Veteran Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones was asked for his take Wednesday during an appearance on Josina Anderson’s “The Crew” podcast. His answer closely mirrored the one head coach Bill Belichick gave just after last season ended.
“I think Mac has the ability, and I think it starts there,” Jones told co-host Clarence Hill. “I think Mac has the ability to be a good quarterback in this league, and I think what he does with it is between him and the coaches. There’s a lot that goes into that. But he has the ability to be a top quarterback in this league.”
Jones’ response was a bit more complimentary than the one offered by Belichick, who said one day after the Patriots’ Week 18 loss in Buffalo that Mac Jones “has the ability to play quarterback in this league.” Two months later, Belichick declined to name Jones the Patriots’ starting QB when speaking with reporters at the NFL annual meeting, saying New England will “play the best players.” Jones will need to hold off a challenge from second-year backup Bailey Zappe, who played well over his four appearances as a rookie.
Jonathan Jones went on to note how the Patriots’ lack of coaching-staff continuity hurt Mac Jones last season, pointing to their shift from longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the much-maligned combo of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
“I would say (Mac Jones) is a competitor,” the longtime New England defensive back said. “He came in every day ready to work. And I think for him, being in Year 2 and not having consistency from Year 1 is a lot. That’s a lot for a player you asked to come in from college, to learn a system and then all his rookie mistakes that he’s made and his growth, you come in his second year and say, ‘OK, we’re going to learn something all new again.’ So there’s a lot going into that and not having consistency. A lot of players go through that when they come in and the coordinator leaves or changes. Having that consistency, it makes it a little easier for a player.”
The Patriots will have yet another voice leading their offense this season, but new coordinator Bill O’Brien boasts far more offensive coaching experience than Patricia or Judge and has a successful track record of developing quarterbacks. His arrival should benefit Jones, assuming the 2021 first-round draft pick can hold off Zappe this summer and keep his starting job.
Jonathan Jones also shared his thoughts on a few other notable signal-callers, weighing in on Aaron Rodgers’ arrival in the AFC East and last month’s rumors linking the Patriots to Lamar Jackson.