Positive signs for Mac Jones in Bill O’Brien’s offense early on
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Peyton Davis
Former University of Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was united with Tide offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien over the offseason, and early returns have been positive throughout OTAs into mandatory minicamp starting this week.
Jones has spoken highly of his new play caller throughout the first few weeks of practice, pointing to his professionalism and experience going into Jones’ third year as a pro.
“There’s things that pop up in practice – issues,” Jones said on Monday. “And we just try to fix them on the run, or we have tools to do that. It’s all about your toolbox. That’s what’s so great about the system.”
After a pro bowl rookie season where he threw for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns on a 67.6% completion rate in 17 games, Jones regressed statistically in his second year, throwing for 2,997 yards with only 14 touchdowns completing 65.2% of his passes – albeit in only 14 games started. However, this regression has largely been attributed to Bill Belichick hiring his former defensive coordinator from 2012-2017, Mat Patricia, as the team’s play caller to replace his longtime OC Josh McDaniels prior to the 2022 season.
After making the playoffs with a 10-7 record in Jones’s rookie year, the Patriots regressed heavily offensively, dropping from 6th in the league in scoring in 2021 (27.2 points/game) down to 17th in ’22 (21.4 points/game) en route to an 8-9 record and missing the playoffs for only the second time since 2009.
Patricia had Jones visibly frustrated multiple times throughout the 2022 season, and was even rumored to have Belichick “pissed” at him after the season because of the way he had publicly questioned the teams direction on offense throughout last season.
Jones has reportedly looked sharp, relaxed and more confident early on in camp and has been out-dueling his backup, Bailey Zappe, who played very well at times when Jones was injured last season. The performance of the 24-year-old quarterbacks has turned heads of media members in attendance as well.
In addition to the criticism of the hiring of Mat Patricia last year, many have been critical of Coach Belichick’s ability to draft/develop offensive skill talent as well as his unwillingness address the issue in free agency. However, this offseason has been a different story, as the team has added tight end Mike Gesicki, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Robinson to provide Jones more support offensively next year. Additionally, the team is looking to add five time All-Pro receiver Deandre Hopkins to give Jones a true number one receiver next season. Even through a tough season in 2022, the New England Patriots look to have confidence in the former Alabama star, and Jones has continued to reinforce that with a strong start to 2023.