5 New England Patriots players who need to have a bounce-back season in 2023

  • Can Kendrick Bourne revert to his 2021 season?
  • Will Mac Jones show why he is the quarterback of the future in New England?
  • How will Hunter Henry become a dominant fixture of the offense again?
New York Jets v New England Patriots
New York Jets v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Jack Jones

2022 stats:

  • 30 combined tackles
  • 10 receptions on 25 targets for 235 yards - 0 touchdowns
  • 3 PBUs, 2 INT - 1 returned for TD
  • Forced fumble and fumble recovery

Unlike other names on the list, Jack Jones doesn't necessarily need a redemption season to prove his worth to the team, as he is still just entering his second season in the NFL. But the way his rookie season ended and the troubles he faced during the offseason put his future with the Patriots more in jeopardy than it typically would be at this point in his career.

Upon his selection in the 2022 draft, there were many questions surrounding the young quarterback because of his checkered past during his college career. But what some deem "character concerns" does not detract Belichick, especially on an incredibly talented player who made a silly mistake during a night out at school.

Because of those concerns, Jones fell in the draft to the fourth round despite being a former five-star recruit out of high school. He was the second cornerback taken by Belichick that year in hopes of finding another lockdown cornerback to maintain a dominant secondary.

Unsurprisingly, Jones proved to be unproblematic and accomplished a lot early on during his rookie season, most notably a pick-six from Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field.

He performed well the entire year, looking every bit worth the risk Belichick allegedly took by drafting him. But it all came crashing down in December when he suffered an injury in the week 14 game against the Cardinals that put him on the injured reserve list.

A week later, the situation got more confusing and worse, as he was moved to the reserve/suspended list for allegedly missing required rehabilitation appointments to deal with his knee injury.

The situation created a lot of narratives about Jones as a person and player and the high possibility that he wouldn't be able to recover from whatever situation got him suspended, especially since the other player who was suspended at the same time filed a grievance against the team and was eventually released.

Fortunately for all, Belichick and Jones addressed the issue and moved on before the offseason programs began, and he's performed pretty well throughout the summer. But he then added another roadblock to his life and career when he got arrested in June and has a court date set for mid-September.

Because of the drama that has followed him this past year, Jones will undoubtedly need to prove he can be valuable to the team and stop distractions from his own life and to the team. He appears to have all the tools to be a great cornerback in the league, and for the Patriots, and with the right mindset and guidance, he can keep it that way if he stays out of trouble.