NFL Rumors: New England Patriots Losing Confidence in QB Mac Jones

The days of the New England Patriots as the NFL's leader in stability are long over. Speaking at the owner's meetings, head coach Bill Belichick declined to commit to incumbent starting quarterback Mac Jones and suggested the Patriots may be open to an offseason competition:

The Patriots drafted Jones 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He immediately led them to their best year of the post-Tom Brady era, a 10-7 regular season finish followed by a 47-17 Wildcard Round beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.

Unfortunately, Jones regressed steeply in his second season. His passing yards per game fell from 223.6 in his rookie season to 214.1 last year, and his passer rating plummeted from 92.5 to 84.8. He also missed three starts due to injury.

Jones' missed time opened the door for four surprising (and tantalizing) appearances from rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe. The fourth-round pick averaged 248.5 passing yards per game with a 112.5 passer rating over his two starts, a pair of blowout wins over the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. He even reportedly sparked a quarterback controversy among the players in the locker room.

Jones should have the inside track at the starting job given his draft pedigree, success as a rookie, and the Patriots' hiring of his former coach Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator. But fans, players, and even coaches are a fickle bunch. If the Patriots struggle again this season, Jones will absorb a disproportionate share of the blame. If he doesn't show substantial progress, his tenure as the team's franchise quarterback could be at risk, and the Patriots could be starting from square one yet again in 2024. 

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