The Patriots’ Week 7 win over the Buffalo Bills wasn’t just big for New England. It also was huge for Mac Jones’ supporters.

That includes Dan Orlovsky, a former NFL quarterback-turned-ESPN analyst, who has vehemently defended the Patriots QB on several occasions amid New England’s 2023 struggles.

“He’s been unfairly handled, unfairly criticized, unfairly judged. It’s been a mess,” Orlovsky said Monday on ESPN’s “First Take,” one day after New England upset Buffalo 29-25 at Gillette Stadium. “When Mac Jones was drafted in New England, it was like, ‘Oh man, he’s going to the best place possible.’ In three years, it’s one of the worst places possible. And everyone’s like, ‘Well, Mac Jones stinks. Mac Jones can’t play. Mac Jones doesn’t anticipate. Mac Jones can’t have accuracy. Mac Jones doesn’t go through progressions.’ Yes, he does. He absolutely does.”

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Jones was excellent Sunday, completing 25 of 30 passes for 272 yards with two touchdowns. He took care of the football — something he failed to do in recent weeks — and controlled New England’s offense, an effort that culminated with a game-winning TD pass in the final minute.

“In his second year in the NFL, he had a defensive coordinator calling plays with bad talent around him,” Orlovsky said. “This year, he’s got bad talent around him — not nearly as good as the people we talk about on a consistent basis. Josh Allen’s got way more. Zach Wilson’s got way more. Tua Tagovailoa’s got way more. Trevor Lawrence has got way more. Deshaun Watson has way more. Lamar Jackson, who was unbelievable (Sunday). All these guys have so much more talent. And he’s got a bad offensive line. But we want Mac Jones to play like, ‘Oh, where’s the third-year leap?’ With what? With who?

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“And then all of sudden, there’s a little rhythm in their offense (Sunday). A guy makes a play or two. (Demario) Douglas makes a couple of plays downfield with the ball in his hands. And then all of a sudden, Mac Jones beats the Buffalo Bills — ‘Oh, maybe he can play a little bit.’ What’s been done to Mac Jones is a joke. I’m not sitting here telling everybody he’s Patrick Mahomes. But he still has the chance to be a good player in this league — a really good player at quarterback.”

There’s a lot of validity to Orlovsky’s defense. Jones hasn’t exactly been positioned for success in New England, starting with last season’s debacle when Matt Patricia called the offensive plays and continuing with this season’s overall dearth of talent on both sides of the ball.

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Then again, Jones hasn’t done himself any favors, either, prompting Bill Belichick to bench the third-year QB on multiple occasions. Perhaps Sunday’s performance will help Jones and company build momentum as the Patriots try to flip the script on their 2023 campaign.

“I would say there’s two quarterbacks on the planet that might be playing good in New England this year: One plays in Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes) and one plays in Baltimore (Lamar Jackson),” Orlovsky said. “I don’t think anybody else would be playing good this year in New England. They have the worst pass-protecting offensive line and they have the least separation by guys.

” … If Mac Jones is in San Francisco, he would be playing significantly better than he is now. If Mac Jones is in Detroit, he would be playing significantly better than he is now. It he was in Miami — we would be talking about Mac Jones, maybe not to the level that we’re talking about a Brock Purdy as an MVP candidate and a Jared Goff as an MVP and a Tua as an MVP, but he wouldn’t be far off. He’s got the same talent and skill set. He sees is before it happens. He’s got great anticipation. He throws to windows. He’s got really good ball placement. Very smart. Great processor.”

The Patriots’ upset victory over the Bills improved New England’s record to 2-5. Next up for the Pats: a road date with the Miami Dolphins in Week 8.

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Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images