Are Mac Jones and the New England Patriots at a crossroads?
By Fran Brown
Like most, I did not expect a quarterback controversy to be at the center of the Patriots’ 2022 season after six games. Mac Jones was coming off of a rookie season where he led the Patriots to the playoffs and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. The team added offensive weapons like DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton and expectations were that Jones would make a jump during his sophomore season. Alas, here we are debating whether or not Jones should be the starting quarterback when he returns from injury.
There is no question that the play of rookie Bailey Zappe has forced the issue while Jones has been sidelined, as he’s been able to take care of the football, get different players involved and, more importantly, lead the team to consecutive victories. However, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer, there is also tension between the quarterback and the staff.
"“I think things did get a little sideways really over the last couple of months. I think it’s going back to the change from Josh McDaniels. ‘Why are we bringing in Joe Judge and Matt Patricia when Bill O’Brien’s sitting out there and potentially we could have made a run at him? Why does it make sense to have a defensive guy and a special teams guy here? Why are we changing the offense? Why are we streamlining after all the success I had?'”"
You could see this starting in training camp as the offense struggled to adjust to the new play calling and Jones seemed to voice his frustration every chance he had. It carried over to the start of the season as Jones threw five interceptions in the first three games, most of those coming when trying to force the ball deep to Parker. Breer mentioned that the controlled play of Zappe can help the staff send a message to Jones that the offense does indeed work and that they don’t necessarily need him in order to be productive.
There also seems to be tension behind the scenes on how both sides wanted to handle Jones’ injury and Jones has seemed hesitant to go off and have the tightrope surgery which can accelerate his return.
There is no question that the team and Jones have not had the smoothest relationship since the start of training camp, but they couldn’t sit their first-round pick because of a few rough games. Now an injury and the play of Zappe have forced the issue and put both sides at a crossroads.