Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had a disastrous showing on Sunday out in Dallas, and the clock may now be ticking on his future unless he starts playing at the level people expect him to.
With that in mind, at the end of the day, another reality is simply growing that people sort of already know but won’t apply where it needs to go.
The fact of the matter is Tom Brady set the standard of what the quarterback position should be, and Bill Belichick is treating the third-year quarterback accordingly.
However, it’s not for the reasons you might think.
Don’t get me wrong. Jones deserves the same scrutiny when it comes to how careful he is with the football and how he operates the offense. He’s held to a higher standard when it comes to how he leads and how he conducts himself in the locker room. As the starter with this football team, he’s faced with higher expectations given his position. He’s also judged by his performance on the field, and rightly so, which on Sunday was far from good enough.
At the same time, when we look at where Jones currently is in his young NFL career, it’s hard not to place some of that blame on Belichick’s shoulders.
And we’re not talking about Matt Patricia or Joe Judge. That situation is what it is.
Instead, we’re looking at a bigger problem, and watching the Patriots’ recent struggles just makes the situation that much more frustrating.
For anyone who watched Miami and Buffalo on Sunday, that match-up was a reminder that the philosophy playing out around the league is being ignored here in New England. In today’s NFL, the top teams around the league are placing a heavier emphasis on trying to surround their young signal-callers with explosive players, with the goal being to put them in positions to succeed. Those who don’t tend to be on the outside looking in when it comes to being among the NFL’s elite.
What’s sort of crazy is the fact both the Bills and Dolphins have already experienced it. Tua Tagovailoa and Josh Allen were both guys who were nearly ousted from their respective teams until their clubs switched gears and started putting talent around them.
The results have been pretty obvious. Buffalo has gone head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in recent years, with those two being among the top clubs in the AFC. Miami has since risen to their level, with the Dolphins off to one of their better starts despite the Bills bringing them back down to reality on Sunday in humbling fashion.
Buffalo dealt them a 48-20 victory one week removed from Miami’s 70-20 drubbing of the Broncos. That doesn’t change the fact the Dolphins will likely continue to be dangerous this season.
Still, both teams possess explosive playmakers and multiple ones at that. The Patriots, meanwhile, have Kendrick Bourne and JuJu Smith-Schuster, with Smith-Schuster seemingly having lost a step coming off his offseason knee surgery. From there, New England has Dolphins castoffs DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, with Parker being one of New England’s most inconsistent players, while Gesicki has yet to really develop a role in this offense despite being four weeks into the season. After that, they have Hunter Henry, who is a solid tight end and arguably their best player, albeit he’s certainly not Rob Gronkowski.
None of those players, save for maybe Henry, would start in Buffalo or Miami’s offense. When you have a quarterback on a rookie deal, the hope is to prop them up and do absolutely everything you can for them to succeed. Not give them just enough, or after what we’ve seen, maybe not enough.
Belichick is treating Jones as if he’s Brady, with expectations that are unrealistic. People want Jones to make players around him better. That was a Brady trait, and there are few players in the league, if any who possess that ability. Jones needs guys around him to make him better. That’s just the reality.
And that’s not just Jones. Allen and Tagovailoa each benefited from better talent around them. That’s also true when you look at what the Bengals did with Joe Burrow when they gave him fellow college teammate Jamar Chase and built additional talent around him in Cincinnati.
Jones is just a good young quarterback. He’s not necessarily great, or at least he hasn’t shown that. He just is who he is. But the frustrating part is that New England hasn’t competed at the level personnel-wise, at least offensively, as its peers.
You can hate on him if you want, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s been playing under unrealistic expectations.
Ponder this. The majority of Patriots fans certainly don’t look at the offensive side of the football and believe they have championship caliber talent. If you fall into that category, yet you blame Jones for the team’s problems, then ask yourself why you’re so surprised he’s not succeeding?
Belichick’s philosophy when it comes to receivers and expecting Jones to make other teams’ castoffs better just isn’t realistic.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Belichick’s been expecting Jones to be Brady with this group, and the result speaks for itself. Jones may ultimately fall on the sword, but the problem will remain unless Belichick finds the next Brady before his time here in New England runs out. Otherwise, he’ll continue to expect the next young quarterback to win with similar talent, which will likely yield the same undesired results.
If that happens, winning another Lombardi Trophy most certainly won’t be in their future. So unless he gets on board with what the rest of the league is doing there, outcomes like what we’ve seen shouldn’t be that unusual.
We all know Belichick’s a great coach, and many question his ability when it comes to building a team around any quarterback not named Brady. Yet people should know there’s a reason why Brady truly was so great, and being mad because Jones can’t do what he did is just feeding into the mistake his coach is currently making.
It’s also why they won’t get back to where they need to be unless his mindset changes.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary