The New England Patriots aren’t doing quarterback Mac Jones any favors this offseason. Jones is entering a crucial second campaign in which, typically speaking, starting-caliber signal-callers are expected to make a considerable leap from their year one performance. The biggest threat to Jones’ potential success in 2022 is currently occurring within the very walls of Gillette Stadium.
Former Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels departed the franchise earlier this offseason to become the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. McDaniels leaves a sizable void behind and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has refused to name a proper replacement to date. Belichick seems willing to head into September with a giant question mark surrounding who is going to call offensive plays for the Patriots this season. It’s a situation that places Jones in an awkward predicament while threatening to derail his progress as a young quarterback.
Belichick was reportedly heavily involved on the offensive side of the ball throughout Monday’s OTAs. It represents somewhat of a change in approach when compared to previous offseason periods. A defensive-minded leader, Belichick appears to be preparing to take a more hands-on approach with the offense this campaign. In typical Belichick fashion, the six-time Super Bowl winner offered little clarity when reporters questioned the strategy regarding the unknown play-caller.
“We’re months away from that,” Belichick said. “What plays are we going to call, minicamp plays?”
New England’s success throughout 2022 is essentially tied to Jones’ development. The quarterback is the most important position in the sport and today’s pass-happy league demands results through the air more than ever before. Belichick has spent the previous two offseasons attempting to surround Jones with weapons in the passing game, acquiring high-priced players via both trade and free agency, but failing to grasp the importance of surrounding Jones with a strong offensive coaching staff could prove to be an egregious error.
McDaniels is an excellent play-caller that understood how to place his signal-callers in positions to achieve instant success. Failing to appropriately name McDaniels’ successor is a highly questionable decision. Replacing McDaniels was always going to prove to be extremely difficult given his long-lasting success in the role, but refusing to try altogether is borderline self-sabotage.
It’s worth noting that Belichick added a familiar face to his 2022 coaching staff in former New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge, who accepted an offensive assistant role in Foxboro. Reports have swirled throughout the summer that Judge could potentially call plays in New England, a rumor that gains additional steam every day that Belichick refuses to deliver clarity. Matt Patricia also returns for his second season in an undefined role as a senior football advisor. However, Patricia is another defensive-minded coach that is ill-equipped to involve himself on the offensive side of the ball.
Jones experienced a solid rookie campaign. The former Alabama standout completed an impressive 67.6% of his passing attempts while throwing for 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Patriots qualified for the postseason but were swiftly brushed aside by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. Jones tossed two interceptions in that playoff defeat. Progress is now expected despite playing in a new-look division that could feature improved New York Jets and Miami Dolphins teams and the Super Bowl favorite Bills.
Building upon Jones’ first-year success should have been the theme of New England’s offseason, but onlookers have instead been forced to stand idly by in confusion at the lack of a clear-cut plan. The Patriots have seemingly gotten worse offensively and experienced less-than-desirable periods throughout free agency and the draft. None of New England’s offseason errors could prove more costly than the lack of interest in naming an appropriate play-caller.
If Jones falters throughout 2022 while failing to take the desired steps forward, Belichick will deservingly shoulder the majority of the blame for how he handled the situation at offensive coordinator.
- Jun 24, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022