When it comes to evaluating professional athletes, in any sport, there are two trains of thought on how to do that. Sometimes these methods overlap, allowing the majority of people to come to the same conclusion. Sometimes the methods veer off in polar opposite directions, and the conclusions are what you see debated on social media, on a daily basis.
The first of the two methods, and my preferred method, is statistical and factual analysis. The motto of those who use this method is "Numbers Never Lie". Something happened, and it was measurable and catalogued. There is no bias involved with numbers. They just are, and so we use them to make determinations. Advanced analytics provides even more math porn, and allows for deeper dives in shallow categories. For example, passing yards can be broken down into two advanced categories (yards in the air, and yards after catch).
The second method is called "the eye test". There are those that claim they can see things that don't show up on a stat sheet, and that those are the things that truly embody a players ability. On it's own, this is the most fallable of the mesthods, since it is the most subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so too is athletic ability. When used together, we get the clearest picture of what a player is. A 4k resolution screenshot of their talents and abilities. Combined, these two methods cut through prejudice and bias, and shine a spotlight on the truth. Unfortunately for Mac Jones, this crystal clear image reveals a dark truth. That is, that sticking with Mac Jones at quarterback for the 2023 season is a monumental mistake.
It's time to stop making excuses for Mac Jones' poor play last season. His struggles were not due to Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, and certainly not Bill Belichick. The eye test was not lying to you early, or late in the year. On every snap, Mac Jones looked like a fish out of water. His footwork was atrocious, and he hardly ever stepped into his throws. Even on his best thrown balls we get a little bit of that Peyton manning wobble (I won't call it a duck). Factor in that he was consistently throwing off his back foot, and you have the exact recipe that led to a decline in his stats across the board.
His 84.8 passer rating was behind Justin Fields, Taylor Heinicke, and Marcus Mariota. His receivers caught 69.5% of their targets, and dropped 6.6%. You can say that "throwing a good ball" is overrated, but every receiver in the NFL would disagree with you. Look at rookie Bailey Zappe for a comparison. His passe rating was 100.9. That's good enough for top 5 in the league (if he had enough snaps to qualify). Zappe's receivers also had a 78% catch percentage, and just a 5.0% drop percentage. The final verdict on these stats is that Zappe throws a better ball, which leads to more catches and fewer drops.
Sticking with Zappe, but reflecting back on what we saw Jones do all season, Zappe navigates the pocket better. He actually steps into his throws and delivers a tight spiral. No weeble-wobbles from him. In fact, going to the stats, Zappe was hurried 5 times in 4 games, and hit only 3 times. If multiplied into 14 games, those numbers would be 18 and 11 respectively. The reason I use 14 games, is because that's the number of games played by Mac Jones, who was hurried 34 times, and hit 27 times. Throwing off your back foot, while being hit, leads to very ugly passes and interceptions.
Was it Matt Patricia's fault that Mac Jones has not learned how to evade pass rushers? Does the blame fall on Joe Judge? The offensive line didn't start bad, then get good for 4 games, then get bad again. The quarterback position sure did. It doesn't matter whether you use your eyes, or use statistics (thanks to www.pro-football-reference.com for the statistics used in this article), the stark reality, staring us all in the face, is that Bailey Zappe should be the starting quarterback in 2023, and sticking with Mac Jones, would be, and likely will be a mistake. One can only hope that Bill sees it staring him in the face too.