This Wednesday begins the all-important year three for quarterback Mac Jones. It's been a bumpy two years for Jones, so year three is critical in his young career.
There's some familiarity in the offense this season, so if everything works out, Mac could be a top-ten quarterback in the NFL by the end of the season. It's a tall mountain to climb, but it isn't impossible.
Mac Jones was a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021 losing out to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.
Jones showed flashes of greatness in his rookie season and looked dominant under center. After an exciting rookie season that resulted in Jones going to the Pro Bowl, things looked up for him until the offseason in 2022.
For reasons many may never understand, Bill Belichick named Matt Patricia the offensive line coach and the offensive play-caller.
As predicted by almost everyone who watches football, this went horribly and ultimately stunted Mac Jones's growth (other than Mac suffering an ankle injury against the Baltimore Ravens).
But, with last season in the rearview mirror, it's time to look toward 2023.
It's a new season and another chance for Mac to prove that he is the future for the Patriots and can be a top quarterback in the NFL. How can Mac become a top quarterback in the NFL?
Bill O'Brien's return to New England
Not only does Mac have a real offensive coordinator but it's someone he's familiar with. When Mac was preparing for the NFL draft, O'Brien had just been hired as the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, where the quarterback had spent his entire college career.
Jones worked with the former NFL coach to teach him the Alabama playbook, getting a head start into their future working relationship without even knowing it.
It's also an added bonus that Bill O'Brien is used to coaching in New England under Bill Belichick. It's unclear how O'Brien will run the offense in New England, but it's fair to speculate it could possibly be the same way the offense was ran in Alabama because of how dominant the Crimson Tide were with Jones and O'Brien.
This offseason, the Patriots signed wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster from the Kansas City Chiefs. With Jakobi Meyers no longer with the team, Smith-Schuster has what it takes to be the number-one receiver the team has been looking for.
Sure, he's not Deandre Hopkins, but he is a good consolation prize. On top of that, he is coming off of a Super Bowl season in Kansas City and knows what it takes to reach the Super Bowl and how to be a top receiver for Mac Jones.
Plus, having Smith-Schuster on the field gives other receivers like Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, and Tyquan Thornton a chance to get open and give Mac options. The more options, the better for Mac.
Tight end duo
The Patriots' offense thrives when it has two tight ends that can either block or go out and make a play. Hunter Henry was Jones' security blanket in 2021, while Jonnu Smith struggled to make a name for himself in New England.
Smith was traded to Atlanta this offseason, leaving an open spot on the tight end depth chart.
With Smith off the team, the Patriots signed Mike Gesicki from the division-rival Miami Dolphins. Gesicki is a playmaker, which Mac needs in a tight end other than blocking. With Hunter Henry being the better blocker, Gesicki can go out and move the ball down the field and be an open target for Mac.
Although none of them are five-star offensive weapons, Mac now has options for who he wants to throw the ball to.
With the offensive line also improved and Mac currently working with an offensive-minded coach, he has the tools he needs to succeed and possibly be a top-ten quarterback by the end of the 2023 season.