Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has had a rollercoaster start to his career, but luckily for all involved, things are (kind of) looking up once again.

If we’re sticking with the rollercoaster analogy, it feels like New England just finished a rocky ride, enjoying the view on its way up but absolutely loathing the fall that came with it.

Wait, what’s that? The Patriots signed up for at least one more ride and are currently being pulled up the hill by that chain? Let’s see how it goes.

Jones’ third season has started off well, with the 25-year-old completing 69% of his passes and looking in command of the Patriots’ offense for the first time since his rookie season. He’s fully healthy and New England has (barely) put enough talent around him for there to no longer be excuses. We’ve reached a point where he needs to execute.

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What better place to start than MetLife Stadium on Sunday?

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The Jets are on a rollercoaster of their own this season, watching perceived franchise savior Aaron Rodgers go down with an Achilles injury almost immediately. That thrust Zach Wilson back into the starting lineup, where New York hopes he can just stay out of the way enough to allow its extremely talented roster to win some football games.

The majority of that talent comes on the defensive side of the ball, where Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, C.J. Mosley and Sauce Gardner make up one of the best units in the entire NFL.

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The Jets allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league last season, so there’s no doubt they’re good. But a troubling trend has started to show up.

New York likes to feast on the swill but doesn’t exactly look like the same unit when tasked with shutting down great offenses.

If you take a look at the games in which the Jets allowed the most points last season, you’ll find a number of good to great quarterbacks. Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens and Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks all eclipsed the 20-point mark. New York’s three best performances came against Brett Rypien and the Denver Broncos, Trevor Siemian and the Chicago Bears and Marcus Jones Mac Jones and the Patriots.

You see the trend?

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It’s honestly hard to say if that theme has continued into 2023. New York played exceptionally against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, turning the 27-year-old over three times. Allen is a perennial MVP candidate, so that’s great, but the Jets then turned around and got stomped out by Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, allowing nearly 400 total yards, a 50% conversion rate on third downs and five field goals.

Where do Jones and Patriots fall on the list this season?

That’s the question that makes this matchup so important for Jones. Sure, we all know he’s better than Wilson and always seems to turn the ball over less than his fellow 2021 first-rounder, but this is no longer about skating by. Jones hasn’t built up enough goodwill for that to be enough. He needs to lead the Patriots offense through a game where they don’t just look competent, they need to start looking confident.

If he can do that against the Jets in Week 3, it might finally be time to give the polarizing signal-caller his flowers. If he can’t, those tough conversations will continue down at One Patriot Place.

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images