A lot has been said about the Patriots this season, and if their lackluster performance becomes the standard the rest of the way, then that will surely continue. Besides the typical criticism of a team performing poorly, there has been an emphasis on the development of Mac Jones and how well he can fare as the New England quarterback moving forward.
Rumors have circulated in recent weeks alleging some within the Patriots organization are ready to move on from the third-year quarterback, whether via trade before the deadline at the end of the month or simply by being benched.
There are even whispers of higher-ups feeling content if he remains the starter, as they are hoping for a disappointing final win/loss record to be seated higher in the first round of the 2024 draft.
Then there are some who believe Jones' performance over the last two seasons has been a product of an inadequately built roster, with the focus being on the offensive line and wide receivers.
Of course, a lack of game-changing receivers and inconsistent performances by offensive linemen doesn't explain all the issues that Jones has created this season, but it does explain why no quarterback has been successful in the current regime, hence why (to some) Jones has remained the QB1 through six games.
Because the quarterback remains the hottest topic out of New England other than Bill Belichick's job security, recently enshrined Patriots Hall of Famer Dante Scarnecchia was asked about Jones, and his thoughts were a bit harsh, to say the least.
Speaking to Karen Guregian of MassLive ahead of his new honor on Friday, Scarnecchia expressed that Jones appears to have regressed for a number of reasons, including the obvious roster issues, but also due to a loss of confidence. But then compared him to another struggling third-year quarterback, suggesting they're more similar than people want to believe.
"Four weeks ago, would you have taken Zach Wilson or Mac Jones? Four weeks later, who would you take Zach Wilson, or Mac Jones? I said (on “98.5 the Sports Hub”) the difference is, one guy has found confidence and comfort. The other guy hasn’t. Now, in four weeks, that can change. Just like it did for Zach Wilson. They just beat a 5-0 football team. They damn near beat the Kansas City Chiefs."
Although the legendary offensive linemen acknowledged the challenges that Jones has been dealt and had difficulty overcoming, he did have some harsh advice to share regarding how much the quarterback speaks to the media, but mostly what he says in those interviews.
"I wish that he would do less interviews and shut the hell up, because all the stuff he continually puts out there … just shut up. Go in the film room. Get ready. Enough (talking). Cuz’ he can play. I think he can play."
That has been a repeated criticism for Jones since he was drafted in 2021, with his most notable issues becoming outbursts on the sideline during games last season. That has swiftly changed this year despite the frustration that he has been feeling, and there hasn't been a single incident since the season began.
Regarding Scarnecchia's assessment of the quarterback saying too much in interviews, that is a bit more perplexing. Jones has taken on the identity of a true Patriots player and often glosses over the real issues at hand, remaining as optimistic as possible. It doesn't seem like a fair criticism for that, but if the underlying point from the coach is more of an "actions speak louder than words," then that is something Jones should take to heart.
The good thing about all that Scarnecchia spoke about was that he still feels Jones can play better. He reiterated that Zach Wilson has improved since the start of the season and expressed his belief that Jones can do the same thing this year.
"This kid is playing better than anyone thought he could play after the first couple of games. And, I honestly think the same thing can happen here with this guy if they would get five guys in front of him, who will play the way they can play."
Considering most in New England consider him an offensive line godsent, hearing Scarnecchia acknowledge the horrible offensive line validates it as the biggest problem on the offense this season. Some have even begged for him to come out of retirement for just one more season to get the players in check, but unfortunately, that will not happen.
The hiring of Adrian Klemm as the new coach should not be overlooked. He was also put in a difficult position with a lack of immense talent on the line across the board. On top of that, the unit has dealt with the most injuries on the team, not allowing Klemm to put out consistent starters since the season began.
Hopefully, that will change, impacting Jones' performance and reinvigorating the run game. That would be a significant boost in a stale offense, proving Scarnecchia right about Jones being able to get the team back on track.