New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is under the brightest of lights entering his third NFL season.

The first two years of his career were defined by very different processes and results. In his rookie year, Jones worked in an organized system under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and had a great year — capping things off with a Pro Bowl nod. In his sophomore campaign, the wheels fell off. Matt Patricia was tabbed to take over as offensive play caller and it went about as poorly as you could imagine for a long-time defensive coordinator. Jones got injured, fell behind, developed zero trust with his coaches and put forth an ugly follow up to his rookie season.

So, which season aligns with who the Patriots’ signal caller will be long term? Chris Long, who played for New England in 2016, believes Jones is set for a good season.

“You know, Mac’s going to be under a lot of pressure immediately, but I think he’s going to thrive,” Long said. “I think Bill (O’Brien) will help. If you said, ‘Hey, I’m going to put you under a hot lamp, but you actually have a guy who knows how to coach.’ That (will make a difference.)”

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Long’s thought process makes a lot of sense, as Bill O’Brien has a great history of running offenses at the NFL level. The Patriots added O’Brien this offseason to put an end to the Patricia/Joe Judge experiment on offense, hoping to open things up for their young QB. If all goes to plan, ESPN analyst “Stanford” Steve Coughlin believes they could be a surprising team in the AFC East.

“The division is all getting better,” Coughlin said. “You can write off New England all you want. They’re still going to be a pain in the (expletive). I don’t care what anyone says, they are going to be a pain in the (expletive) to play.”

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