Mac Jones – Future of the Franchise?

“With the 15th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama”

Prior to the start of the season, Tom Brady would announce that he’d be leaving the New England Patriots after a 20-year tenure on the team. In the 2020 season, the Patriots would finish with a 7-9 record, landing them the 15th-overall pick in the draft. A shaky season with Cam Newton at the helm of the offense led the fans to question what would be the future of the quarterback position of the team. However, when the Patriots took Mac Jones with the pick, many analysts were somewhat split on the nature of the selection. Today we’ll be looking at what Mac Jones could mean for the future of this famed franchise.

Committing to Alabama for some means that you get to be part of the perhaps most famed CFB program of this decade. Under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has won 6 national championships. However, for many, the chance to start in a game is a proving opportunity to show that you’re a fit at the big leagues. After accepting a scholarship for the University of Alabama, Jones was overshadowed by Hurts and Tua, and played primarily in some games here and there. However, when Tua left for the NFL, Jones got his shot and made sure he wouldn’t lose it. 

After playing the second-half of the 2019 season and the entirety of the 2020 season, Jones put up numbers that led the league. During the 2020 season, Jones threw for 4500 yards, 41 TDs, and only 4 interceptions. He would go on to win the National Championship against Ohio State and had a bright future ahead of him in the draft. Surrounded by some of the great talents of the program that would also later on be taken in the NFL Draft, many were concerned about the status of the “next-great Alabama quarterback” and doubted his inability to produce around a non all-star supporting cast. Without any playing time in an NFL game (much like the other rookies), we can only analyze his playstyle, physical stature, and the ability to be developed to become an NFL-caliber quarterback.

Belichick has been known to develop later-round players into starting position players. However, for the past couple of years, there has never been really a need to draft a quarterback early as they had Tom Brady. What we do know though, is that Belichick has an ability to take later-round players and UDFAs and turn them into a piece that helped contribute to the Patriot’s dynasty, but let’s assume the case for a quarterback is different. While the others may be position players, the quarterback position requires being a cerebral player, reading defenses, making the right reads, and so on and so forth. Could Belichick handle that in a new QB after initially having one of the greatest quarterbacks for 20 years?

With the off-season acquisitions of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, the Patriots have made an attempt to load their offensive room with some more weapons. Coming into a promising young Patriots franchise, Jones has a lot of pieces to be put into a place to succeed. A former number-one overall pick, Cam Newton to mentor him, Belichick and McDaniels to re-design a new playbook to fit his playstyle, and some key offensive pieces coming in as well. While Cam may still be the starting quarterback for the next season, it would give Jones less pressure to succeed and instead could just focus on learning the playbook. Belichick and McDaniels have proven that they can re-design a playbook to fit their quarterback’s strengths by turning the Patriots to a run-first offense and utilizing Cam’s mobility. As a pocket passer, we could see some old-school Patriots passing offense utilized in Jones’ playbook.

It’s no secret that Jones played for arguably the greatest CFB coach of all time in Alabama and his offensive supporting cast was stacked, but does this affect his ability to make throws under an NFL-type system? Short answer- Probably, but it shouldn’t matter under good coaching and development. Throwing to first-round picks vs throwing to the Patriots receivers is a big step-down, but under good play-calling, we shouldn’t see Jones having to always make spectacular throws to put the Patriots in a position to win. Obviously, he will have to eventually put the team on his back and play lights out to win a game, but that comes with time and experience on the football field. 

Mac Jones is a great pick for the Patriots because of the maintained connection as well between Belichick and Saban. We cannot assume what happened behind the scenes, but Saban probably knows a thing or two about his national championship-winning quarterback, and Belichick liked what he heard and saw from the kid. His playstyle of a pocket-passer, progressing through reads efficiently, and the ability to throw downfield makes him a good quarterback that the Patriots can rely on for the foreseeable future. Coming into a revitalized Patriots franchise with young talents surrounding Belichick, there is a lot to look forward to in the future of the franchise.