Fans are ready to move on from Mac Jones, and the Patriots should be, too

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) for the second week in a row threw an interception to end a potential game-winning drive.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) for the second week in a row threw an interception to end a potential game-winning drive. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a greater indictment of a starting quarterback than to bench him for the potential game-winning drive. That’s what happened to New England Patriots’ Mac Jones. After throwing an awful red zone interception against the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Bill Belichick had enough.

It should be permanent.

I never wanted the New England Patriots to draft Mac Jones. I spent a lot of ink making my case. After the Patriots made Jones the 15th overall selection, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. That time has passed.

At this point, there’s no doubt in my mind that Mac Jones isn’t a franchise quarterback.

The New England Patriots have enough information about Mac Jones to determine he is not their franchise quarterback

Initially, the main concern was Jones’ lack of arm strength. While that still applies, the primary problem with Jones now is his execution. He keeps making the same mistakes over and over when he should be making less of them.

I had enough of Jones since the loss to the Washington Commanders. In the first half, he overthrew a wide-open Tyquan Thornton, who had a few steps on a trailing defender.

Rhamondre Stevenson got behind the linebacker on a wheel route, but Jones didn’t get Stevenson the ball to Stevenson in time for multiple reasons: he should have thrown the ball sooner and put a lot less air under the ball.

Jones was almost picked off by Emmanuel Forbes on a back-shoulder throw. It looked like when Jones was picked off by Miami Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey. If Jones had a stronger arm, both of those attempts were possible. But with his physical limitations, Jones shouldn’t even try those passes.

Jones’ performance against the Indianapolis Colts only reinforced my conclusion.

He had Hunter Henry in the back of the end zone, but the pass was thrown towards a defender. Jones was lucky that pass wasn’t intercepted.

On third down in the red zone, Stevenson was uncovered in the left flat. The Colts’ pass rush came. The smart move would have been for Jones to get the ball out quickly to Stevenson. Instead, Jones held on until he was wrapped up and threw a double-underhanded pass in Stevenson’s direction that fell incomplete.

With a game-winning score in range, Jones was unbelievably short on a pass to Mike Gesicki. Jones was picked off.

If you want to defend Jones, that’s your right.

Yes, he has had three offensive coordinators to start his career. The offensive line hasn’t been good. The Patriots don’t have any elite offensive talent to throw to. And what skill talent the Patriots have, the coaching staff doesn’t use them to the best of their abilities.

Jones doesn’t deserve all the blame (dropped passes and fumbles).

All true. But throwing behind a brick wall offensive line and having the best skill players surrounding him doesn’t eliminate the mental errors. Every week, Jones throws an interception or a pass that should have been intercepted. Even the game-winning drive against the Buffalo Bills would have been short-circuited if the defender caught a pass that hit his hands.

It’s hard to imagine Belichick going back to Jones after benching him for the final offensive drive. But the timing couldn’t be better. The Patriots have a bye this week. If New England makes a change under center, Belichick has two weeks to prepare the new starter, whoever it may be. My preference would be Malik Cunningham.

As for Jones, what he may need the most is to take a step back, exhale, and clear his mind. He needs a fresh start, probably somewhere else. As a quarterback, Jones is broken. He needs to have his game taken apart and put back together. Rebuild his confidence.

If a new coaching staff can rehabilitate Jones’ game, he can be a decent to good quarterback. He could have a long career as a journeyman backup, maybe even earn his way back into a starting role. Despite all his mistakes, if he can clean those up, Jones could be a decent starting quarterback, like Chad Pennington or Andy Dalton.

But not for New England. Mac Jones had more than enough chances. He’s not a franchise quarterback.