Mac Jones and the New England Patriots‘ offense have struggled mightily in 2023. Jones isn’t a stranger to being benched this season. However, the first two occurrences came in absolute blowouts. This time it was a one-score game. What went wrong with the quarterback who played the best in his class as a rookie just two seasons ago?
Bill Belichick Benches Mac Jones
On the surface, Jones’ outing doesn’t look like a horrific showing worthy of the bench. He completed 15 of his 20 passes for 170 yards on the day.
On a day where his offensive line mimicked a matador with a red sheet, opening the way for uninhibited pressure, that doesn’t feel terrible. But this move has been a long time coming, and his red-zone interception sealed the deal.
Heading into the Germany game, New England ranked 29th in dropback EPA and 24th in dropback success rate. Jones doesn’t have the playmaking ability to create when things break down inside of the pocket, and the Patriots’ offensive line is a shell of its former self.
Is Mac still the QB next week?
“We’ll worry about next week next week.”
Why put in Zappe?
“Yeah I just thought it was time for a change.” pic.twitter.com/EuS5eVDGY3
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 12, 2023
Between the lack of explosiveness and an absolutely inexcusable interception with the game hanging in the balance, it makes sense to end his day and hope for a spark from Bailey Zappe. That wasn’t the reality, nor will it be at any point in 2023. This team is fried.
During the post-game press conference, Jones was asked why the Patriots didn’t attempt a hail mary at the end of the first half. Jones’s response ended with an eye roll.
“No clue. There’s 2 seconds left & we needed 60 yards so… I don’t know.”
What Went Wrong in New England?
Before we get started here, there is no denying Belichick is the greatest coach of all time. We can argue until the cows come home about the split of responsibility between him and Tom Brady, but overall, it was a collective effort. He is still one of the greatest defensive minds in the game.
But the league has lapped him as a general manager. Belichick has consistently whiffed on wide receivers in the NFL Draft. The worst part is they’ve been misses that the masses saw from a mile away. The offensive line has disintegrated, and Belichick certainly didn’t help that cause when he traded Shaq Mason away from pennies on the dollar.
But his biggest mistake was made last season when he made Matt Patricia the offensive coordinator and Joe Judge the quarterbacks coach. That effectively destroyed Jones’ career.
Now, Jones was never likely going to be a top-10 quarterback. But he showed as a rookie that in the right environment, he could distribute the ball effectively. But last season clearly crushed any confidence he had, and that bled over to this season.
Bill O’Brien was supposed to fix things. However, between having less speed on the field than a parking lot full of Priuses and a missing offensive line, Clark Kent would struggle in this offense.
If Belichick never coaches again, this will be the saddest way it could have ended. But he made his bed and must lie in it. Jones was just collateral damage.