Five years ago now was the last time the New England Patriots won a playoff game, that game of course was beating the L.A. Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. While it is always nice to stroll down memory lane and remember once having the greatest quarterback of all time, this won't bring back the glory days. The current Patriots situation is nowhere near the ones that once brought the organization so much success and naturally, blame will go on the most important position in football, the quarterback.
After a Pro Bowl rookie campaign, Mac Jones struggled this season. Throwing for 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and having a QBR that ranked 28th in the league is not a recipe for success for any NFL quarterback. On top of that, he was booed off the field by a packed Gillette Stadium crowd in a Monday night Week 7 loss against the Chicago Bears. While these stains on Jones' play this season may be enough for fans to want to look for a replacement, it is very clear to see why he looked abysmal at times in his sophomore year.
Head coach Bill Belichick's decision to let former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia call the plays was the worst choice the team made all season. Every other play was a screen pass, there was barely any usage of the tight ends at times, and the sheer lack of creativity in the offense made it very predictable. Couple that with an inconsistent offensive line and no true number-one receiver, one can ask themselves what quarterback would succeed in this system?
There are extremely blatant reasons behind Jones' lacking play this past season, but that does not mean he was a victim. There were many times where he missed wide open receivers, not even looking their way. He sometimes looks like a robot on the field, taking easy check downs on 3rd and 8's instead of standing tall in the pocket, waiting for a receiver to get open. There was also the issue of him consistently berating Patricia on the sidelines, complaining about three and outs or bad red zone play-calling. It got so bad that Patriots legend Vince Wilfork called out Jones for doing it.
Mac Jones has a lot that he needs to improve upon in this upcoming season, but he should at least have a chance to show it. He should have a fair shot with a real offensive coordinator that can put him in position to succeed with the weapons he has around him. The Patriots have already made steps in doing that with their hiring of Bill O'Brien as their OC and quarterbacks coach. It remains to be seen what new offensive weapons they will bring in for Mac to pass to, but they would be wise to do so as Patriots fans are getting restless.
For O'Brien, this will be his second stint with the organization as he was on Belichick's staff from 2007-11. He was involved in the offense during these years with 2011 being the year that he was officially named the offensive coordinator. O'Brien brings back more of a timing-based scheme with completions from short, quick routes which is something that Mac Jones can make a living on as he ran this type of offense during his time at Alabama. Getting the ball out quicker and incorporating more play-action passes can help keep Jones ahead of the blitz which was something that defenses feasted on when they played the Patriots this past season. This hiring can not only be huge for Jones' ability, but the whole team as well.
It is important to remember that Mac Jones is still a young quarterback that is still learning how to be an NFL professional on and off the field. He's going to have his ups and downs in this league; some will be his fault, while others may be more on the organization. He's not going to be the next Brady, so don't think that he's going to carry the team no matter who is around him. Just give him a fair shot.
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