The 5 most important players on the New England Patriots for the 2023 season

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Mac Jones

This one is obvious, right? You can't list the most important players on a team and not mention the quarterback, no matter who he is or what team you're talking about, which brings us to Mac Jones.

After dealing with a challenging first year without Tom Brady, the Patriots were in a position to draft their potential next franchise quarterback in the 2021 draft. Fortunately for them, Jones unexpectedly fell to them at the 15th overall pick.

His rookie season defied expectations, despite coming off a championship-winning season at Alabama, and he helped lead the Patriots back to the postseason after missing it the year before.

Jones' performance earned him a selection to the Pro Bowl, as he totaled 352 completions for 3,901 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. It was all looking great for the now Brady-less team, and most felt they might have found the right guy for the job just one year later.

But everything went down the tubes in 2022, with Jones seemingly taking the brunt of all the questionable changes made during the offseason.

Josh McDaniels had accepted the head coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving Belichick to fill the offensive coordinator vacancy that the new coach had held for over a decade. Oddly, he chose inexperienced Matt Patricia to take on the role precisely when it was declared the upcoming season was doomed.

The spring practices were messy, with training camp and preseason not looking much better. The regular season went on not much differently, as questions began to arise regarding Belichick's decision to put Patricia in a position he wasn't qualified for but also if Jones was built to be the quarterback of the future.

There was no consistency or uniqueness to the play-calling. It was clear Jones, and Patricia were not working well together, hence a struggling offense for all 18 weeks of the season.

Now heading into the 2023 season with Patricia out and Bill O'Brien in, Jones is working to revamp his reputation and performance to get back in the good graces of his coaches and teammates. Being the quarterback, of course, makes him one of the most important players by default.

But his dedication to improving his game, developing a good work relationship with O'Brien, and building foundational chemistry with the offensive players around him makes him arguably the most important of all.

We know that Belichick has created this team around a dominant defense; that is his specialty. And even with a well-performing offense, the defense will likely be why the team wins many games. But much of the overall responsibility falls on the shoulders of Jones and how well he can bounce back from last season.