The 4 Patriots players with the most to prove before and during the 2023 season

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Mac Jones

The most obvious of the players needing to prove themselves this season is quarterback Mac Jones.

After completing a standout rookie season resulting in an appearance at the Pro Bowl, expectations were high for Jones' sophomore year. The build-up to the start of training camp excited many fans and media members, as the quarterback's new training regimen was continuously discussed online.

Jones spent time with several coaches nationwide to improve his body and performance on the field, hoping to build upon an impressive rookie showing. All that was great news for the team and exactly what you expected from your presumed franchise quarterback.

But it all came crashing down once he took the field in the summer.

With implementing a new playbook and scheme from the newly appointed offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Jones and the rest of the offense could not do anything successfully during practices.

They were disjoined, uncomfortable, and unenergized, an unfamiliar scene for New England's practice field.

Not much improved throughout the regular season, either; from Jones suffering an ankle injury requiring him to miss weeks four through six and the offense's inability to overcome the challenges of working with Patricia, it was an uncharacteristically bad overall performance for the team.

Unfortunately, despite the obvious factors contributing to Jones' poor performance, he received the most criticism for the failed season, and his attitude throughout didn't help.

His lackluster and inconsistent performance led to many calling for backup Bailey Zappe to replace him permanently and is said to have created tension between him and Belichick. This led to the head coach not declaring him as the QB1 and allegedly pushed him to entertain the idea of trading him this offseason.

Now preparing for his third season in the NFL with a third offensive coordinator, Jones has a lot of improvement to show he can be exactly the type of quarterback the Patriots need.

So far, he's received a lot of praise for his on-field performance and work ethic, on top of coming into practice with a much more optimistic attitude. It's being said that a big reason for this change is the presence of Bill O'Brien, who brings the experience and expertise needed to get the offense as a whole back on track.

Jones will have to put in the extra work to demonstrate he can return to his rookie form and lead the team to success for years to come. Because if not, Belichick will quickly move on from him as soon as possible.