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New England’s Mac Jones put together one of the best seasons for a rookie QB in NFL history last season, but has struggled this year with new offensive coaches, a struggling offensive line and no weapons to throw to. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

We can start by saying the obvious: Mac Jones isn’t Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert or Josh Allen. He doesn’t have the physical makeup to rush for 100 yards or throw a 40-yard strike while sprinting out of the pocket and falling sideways. His throwing power will never hit 99 on Madden and neither will his athleticism.

That doesn’t mean he can’t be a franchise quarterback.

Following the Patriots’ 10-3 win over the New York Jets, it’s fine to feel frustrated about this team’s offensive performance. It is abysmal. It didn’t look better in Week 11 off a bye than it did in Week 1. However, these issues don’t fall on Jones’ shoulder.

In fact, the second-year quarterback’s regression in 2022 isn’t about him. This is about the Patriots setting Jones up to fail.

Jones’ performance has been predictable. The Patriots changed the offensive system that made him a top 15 quarterback as a rookie. New England replaced Josh McDaniels, an experienced offensive coordinator, with Matt Patricia, a former longtime defensive coordinator. The play calling has been brutal at times. They also replaced Jones’ quarterback coach, also McDaniels, with Joe Judge, who is an experienced special teams coach. On top of that, the offensive line has been terrible. On top of that, Jones isn’t throwing to a single Pro Bowl-type player who other defenses need to game plan for.

It’s crazy to me that there are still Patriots “fans” calling for Bailey Zappe. It’s understandable to be frustrated with the passing game, but the level of criticism on Jones feels unfair considering what he’s up against in his own building.


To a certain extent I get it. The fanbase has been conditioned by 20 years of watching Tom Brady. You expect greatness. I’m not saying Jones is going to be great. I’m saying the Patriots have set him up to fail in 2022.

I’m putting this on Bill Belichick. As he told the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy on Sept. 9, “I think (Patricia and Judge are) both good coaches. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility, like it always is. So if it doesn’t go well, blame me.”

That’s fair and here we are – entering Week 12 with Jones being sacked at an alarming rate and playing worse than he did as a rookie.

Again, maybe we should’ve expected this. When McDaniels left for Las Vegas, it started an exodus of offensive coaches. When he left, so did assistant quarterback coach Bo Hardegree, receivers coach Mick Lombardi and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. On top of that, longtime running backs coach Ivan Fears retired. That’s a lot of offensive brain drain from a system that helped your young quarterback.

Did you all forget what Jones did last season? Let’s recap.

In 2021, Jones put together one of the best seasons for a rookie quarterback in NFL history. I’m serious here. His completion percentage (67.6) is the second-best all-time. His 3,801 passing yards are the fifth-most all-time. His 22 touchdown passes are tied for the eighth-most all-time. Those 10 wins the Patriots had made Jones the eighth-winningest rookie quarterback in NFL history.


Now, let’s compare his numbers to other quarterbacks in 2021. Jones finished eighth in completion percentage, 13th in passing yards, tied for 14th in passing touchdowns, 15th in quarterback rating and 15th in completions.

That performance earned Jones Pro Bowl honors as an alternate and voted the 85th best player by his peers in the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players of 2022″ list.

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Jones was a top 15 quarterback in 2021. What should be controversial is how Jones somehow became a bottom-third quarterback in 2022.

How do you take a promising rookie quarterback and fail to develop him? Step one is to change the offensive system and hire an offensive play caller and quarterback coach who don’t have experience in either category.

Step two is to make sure you have an offensive line that struggles to block. Last year, the line allowed Jones to be sacked on 4.9% of his dropbacks. That was the 10th best mark in the NFL. This year, Jones has been sacked on 9.7% of his dropbacks. That ranks 34th of 35 quarterbacks.

Step three is to surround him with no elite weapons on the offensive end. Take a look at the best statistical performances from second-year quarterbacks in NFL history. You’ll notice a trend.


Mahomes had Pro Bowlers Travis Kelce (1,336 yards) and Tyreek Hill (1,479 yards). Dan Marino had Pro Bowlers Mark Clayton (1,389 yards and 18 touchdowns) and Mark Duper (1,306 yards and eight TDs). Herbert had Pro Bowler Keenan Allen (1,138 yards) and Mike Williams (1,146 yards). Joe Burrow had Pro Bowler Ja’Marr Chase (1,455 yards and 13 TDs) and Tee Higgins (1,091). Deshaun Watson had Pro Bowler DeAndre Hopkins (1,572 yards). Kyle Murray also had Hopkins (1,407 yards).

Go down the list. Derek Carr had Amari Cooper (1,070 yards) and Michael Crabtree (922 yards). Even Blake Bortles had Allen Robinson (1,400 yards) or Allen Hurns (1,031 yards).

The best receiver Jones throws to is Jakobi Meyers, who the Patriots should pay and bring back next season. They don’t have elite weapons or players around Jones.

Now, Jones doesn’t look like an elite player, either. Last year, however, he looked like a potential top-10 quarterback in the NFL. He looked like someone to build your offense around.

Now? Jones has a worse quarterback rating than Taylor Heinicke, Carson Wentz and Jacoby Brissett.

He didn’t get worse overnight. Jones worked hard this offseason to get stronger, improve his diet, throwing mechanics and throwing power with the help of Brady’s throwing coach Tom House.

Jones came into this offseason with more experience and was voted a captain by his teammates.

Jones put himself in position to succeed. The Patriots put him in position to fail.

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