A reluctant beginning
And Tom Brady left the New England Patriots, they did not have a succession plan in place. The idea was that they would turn to Jarrett Stidham, but he quickly fell out of favor with head coach Bill Belichick, and the team signed former MVP Cam Newton.
Despite having a top-10 defense, they finished 7-9. Their 2,890 yards were the third-fewest in the league, and their 81.1 passer rating was 26th in the league. There was no denying that they needed a new quarterback and one who was accurate from the pocket.
Despite Mac Jones coming off a season where he completed 77.4% of his passes, for 4500 yards, he was not the first choice on the team's draft board. With reports coming out prior to the draft that the 49ers were going to take Jones with the third overall pick, Belichick set his sights on a mobile quarterback. Either Justin Fields or Trey Lance.
San Francisco selected Lance, and the Bears traded up for Fields, which left Mac Jones as the lone remaining first-round quarterback. The disappointment was all over Belichick's face in the war room when he said, “So we're doing this?”
Despite Bill's apprehension, Mac Jones would have a great rookie season, directed by the best offensive mind in the NFL, Josh McDaniels. He won the starting job in the preseason and finished the regular season with a completion percentage of 67.4%. the team finished 10-7 and made the playoffs, and Mac Jones made the Pro Bowl after throwing for 22 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions.
Hopes for high coming into the season that Mac Jones would improve in year two, on what was a very impressive rookie season. McDaniels was gone, taking a head coach job in Las Vegas, and Belichick turned to former defensive coordinator and Lions head coach Matt Patricia to call the plays.
The team started 1-3, and Jones had thrown only 2 touchdowns to 5 interceptions before getting injured. Backup Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion early in the team's loss to the Packers, and was replaced by fourth-round pick, Bailey Zappe.
To say that New England fans were excited about the way Zappe played would be an understatement. He completed 72.8% of his passes in three games, including 24/34 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over the Browns.
Rather than ride the hot hand, Belichick chose to put Mac Jones back into the starting lineup against the Chicago Bears. Several plays into the game, he made his trademark backfoot throw into the arms of the defense. Fans chanted, “Zappe! Zappe!” as Jones was pulled and Zappe led back-to-back scoring drives.
He would also throw two interceptions, and Mac Jones would be the starter for the remainder of the season. Mac would throw five more interceptions before the end of the season, and heading into the 2023 season, Bill Belichick to clear that there would be a quarterback battle to determine who would start the season.
Despite early reports of Zappe winning the quarterback competition in training camp, Jones would be named the starter, and his problem throwing interceptions (primarily pick sixes) continued under new OC Bill O’Brien.
Jones would be benched twice for poor play during the season, and then the third time he was benched was with 2 minutes on the clock and a potential game winning drive coming up. In Belichick's words, the Patriots had “seen enough.”
The following game Jones would get the start again, and again would throw two interceptions and no touchdowns. Zappe played the second half, going 9/14 for 54 yards.
It is uncertain whether or not we have seen the last of Mac Jones. Some fans are wondering why he has gotten so many chances, but as I wrote before, he is Kraft's boy, and Robert Kraft's ensuring that he gets as many chances as he needs.
Just like the greatest coach in the history of the NFL, the Patriots fans have seen enough as well. It's time to move on at quarterback. They may not win with anyone they have on the roster, and that's fine by us. We want to top pick anyways. But we’d also like to stop seeing Jones' nauseating play week after week.