When Bill Belichick speaks, the whole football world listens. In his latest media appearance, he praised sophomore quarterback Mac Jones, saying he has seen “dramatic improvement” heading into the 2022-2023 season.
“He’s worked extremely hard,” Belichick told reporters Tuesday morning. “He’s got a tremendous work ethic in all areas. I think there’s a dramatic improvement. His physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses, of situations. All those things.”
Belichick went on to say Jones is “starting from a much, much higher point this year than where he started last year.”
The head coach’s comments make me think the ceiling for Jones is “much much higher” as well, seeing where he finished last season — as the 2021 runner-up Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Jones led all first-year quarterbacks in nearly every passing category including passing yards (3,801), passing touchdowns (22) and completion percentage (67.6%). Jones finished tied with Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes for the eighth-best completion percentage in the NFL and the best passer rating of all first-year players at 92.5. That mark was higher than Buffalo Bills superstar Josh Allen’s 92.2 passer rating in 2021. Besides the fact that teams have a year of film on Jones, and Belichick has taken an unorthodox approach to coaching the offense, there’s no reason to believe those numbers would decline this season.
Jones has a year of the playbook under his belt, a new weapon in the passing game with wide receiver DeVante Parker and has no competition for the QB1 spot unlike last season with Cam Newton.
Veteran receiver Jakobi Meyers was asked after minicamp if Jones has taken control of the offense. His response? “That’s just a capital Yes — exclamation mark, exclamation mark. He’s the real deal.”
Apparently, all this talk has not convinced bookmakers, though. Oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have set Jones’ odds to win MVP at 60-to-1 – with 19 quarterbacks ahead of him. If he wins the award, you would win $6,000 on a $100 bet.
Usually, with such a longshot I would say something similar to “the books are asking for your money … stay away.” Yet, I am reminded of the Bengals, who were preseason longshots listed at 150-to-1 to win the 2021 Super Bowl. They went on to be only a field goal away from being champions.
Bookmakers at DraftKings set Belichick’s odds to win Coach of the Year at 20-to-1 — implying his odds to win the award are more likely than Jones’ chances to win MVP.
This is where I disagree. Of course, Belichick is known as the greatest coach of all time. The Patriots’ odds and win totals would look a lot different if Belichick wasn’t the head coach, but there’s no denying the heat he has faced this offseason.
Between drafting Chattanooga’s Cole Strange in the first round (who many considered a reach), to not establishing a true offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels’ departure, many people are blaming the Patriots’ low ceiling on Belichick. DraftKings bookmakers have made the Patriots longshots to even be a contender in the AFC, with odds of 25-to-1 (12 teams ahead of them).
There’s the argument that we’ve seen this coaching situation before, which is true. In 2010, New England didn’t have an offensive or defensive coordinator and went 14-2. But Tom Brady was running the offense and had been in the system for years.
No true play caller this season makes me think Belichick didn’t quite set Jones up for success in just his second year as an NFL quarterback. That’s why I see value in his MVP odds. If the Patriots are a legitimate contender in the AFC, Jones should get the credit for his talent and leadership. If he can overcome the mitigating circumstances with a successful season, he’ll earn MVP votes.
It’s easy to find yourself in the rabbit hole of possibilities when betting NFL futures and that’s why we always remind you on the “Ultimate Betting Show” that you don’t need to bet everything or anything at all. It creates bad habits to wager purely for action. However, there’s no harm in taking a look at different markets and finding some value picks. Jones is considered a longshot that I see true value in.