Can Mac Jones re-establish himself as Patriots' franchise quarterback? Clock is ticking

Curran: The clock is ticking on Mac Jones’ turn-around initially appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO — It’s no stunner that the very first half of the 2022 season has actually been rocky for Mac Jones.

At completion of August, we did season sneak peek videos. My response to the fill-in-the-blank concern, “Mac Jones will come out of the season as…” was “Resilient.”

A multitude of modifications on the offending training personnel that wound up a net-negative. New plan. New terms. Reshuffled offending line. High expectations even after coming off that sputtering surface to 2021.

Adversity and heat were prepared to put down. They have. In reality, it’s been more of a gush than we anticipated.

Patriots Talk: Figuring out the ‘why’ of Belichick’s quarterback shuffling | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The offending line was an early catastrophe. Jones became a flinging choice device (we’re still attempting to find out if that was by coach’s style or operator mistake). He got injured a little in the Miami video game. He got injured a lot in the Ravens video game. Mac saw the backup to his backup — a buzzcut novice who appeared like he might be betting Riverdale High — end up being a fan favorite while his ankle was inflamed like a tick. Then he got booed off the field on nationwide tv.

All of this prior to Halloween.

Jones has actually at the same time revealed aggravation (“It’s like a shot in the heart when the offense fails”) and willpower (“I’m going to figure it out. I always have. I always will.” He has actually admired training radiance and honestly provided that he doesn’t comprehend the function behind some play calls.

During the Patriots’ last preseason video game versus the Raiders, Jones — in the middle of a bad efficiency for the offense as an entire — increased an electronic tablet after his 3rd series then flung his play-calling wristband after the 4th series.

Asked about his sideline attitude later, Jones stated, “I think I care a lot about this game. I sometimes get a little bit too passionate. But at the same time … don’t let it carry over. I don’t think I did that. After the interception and all that I just try to clean the plate and start fresh.

“Sometimes that’s getting the aggravation out and proceeding. Obviously I require to do a much better task of simply playing the next play. Don’t let one little play get aggravating.”

There’s a fine line between fiery, passionate competitor and pain in the ass. And flinging a wristband full of plays can either be a benign act of agitation or a symbolic one depending on who’s doing the interpreting.

Jones’ declining performance … invites the Patriots to do a hard evaluation of him between now and the end of the year. Is Jones ‘the’ guy? Or is he ‘a’ guy?

Tom E. Curran

I’ve kinda given Jones blanket absolution so far this year. The coaching and system changes in the offseason kneecapped his progress. You can’t ask a guy to throw it downfield more then bitch when he gets picked.

But I’d understand if Jones’ visible frustration is seen by Matt Patricia, Joe Judge or the man who put those guys in place — Bill Belichick — as Jones showing them up.

Would that prompt Patricia to intentionally call “much better” plays for Bailey Zappe than he does for Jones in an effort to prove a point or basically sabotage Jones — a notion we’re seeing hinted at? That would seem idiotic, wouldn’t it? Yes, it would.

But Jones’ declining performance since the tail end of last year and thinly-veiled frustrations since the summer invite the Patriots to do a hard evaluation of him between now and the end of the year. Is Jones “the” guy? Or is he “a” guy?

With Jones starting Sunday, it’s at least clear that the job is his when both he and Zappe are healthy. It’s stunning to realize that would even be a question, but here we are. And Jones does share in that reality.

It’s Belichick who hammered into us the fact that players have to establish their level of performance every year. What a player is capable of is nice. What he actually does is a little more important. It doesn’t matter that Jones is a captain, a first-round pick, a hard worker and someone whom players like Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater swear by. If his level dips low enough, he’s vulnerable.

Cassel: Why this could be a career-defining moment for Mac Jones

This is a pivotal two-month stretch in Mac Jones’ career. Monday was bad for him. Despite all denials from Belichick, it sure as hell looked like a performance-based benching. For that to happen on national television in prime time with the Gillette Stadium crowd roaring its approval that Mac’s night was done? That’s gonna leave a dent.

We’ve talked a lot about Mac’s “high flooring.” Well, he’s on the flooring now, figuratively. Flat on his back. Who will assist him up? Or are the Patriots waiting to see him get up on his own, dust himself off and return in the battle?

How resistant is Mac Jones? We’re about to see.

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