After an offseason full of question marks about the offense following the departure of longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to Las Vegas, the New England Patriots season and year two of the Mac Jones era got off to a rough start on Sunday, and that’s putting it nicely.
I’ll get my bias out of the way from the top. I am a diehard New England Patriots fan and I want more than anything for this team to be successful. Now, I also want to make this clear from the start. While I believe Mac Jones is limited as a passer and will never be a “star” quarterback in the NFL, Bill Belichick and the Patriots staff have done next to nothing to help him out in taking the next step into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
They have not surrounded him with anything close to top end talent, they did not hire a real offensive coordinator, and on top of that, they appeared to try to implement a new offensive scheme with a middling defensive coach leading the charge to do so in the offseason.
So now the question becomes, where do you go from here? The Miami Dolphins, the team that beat the Patriots on Sunday with Jones’ predecessor at Alabama, Tua Tagovailoa, have surrounded him with a new coach, top of the line talent, and an improved offensive line, and in my eyes, he still has the same struggles he has had throughout his NFL career. You can give a blind man a Ferrari and he still isn’t going to be able to drive it.
Tagovailoa appears as handcuffed as ever, and the game plan on Sunday screamed “Get the ball in Tyreek Hill’s hands no matter what you have to do to make that happen.” Similar to Jones, I don’t believe he will ever be an “elite” NFL quarterback. But at least Miami has given him the tools to find out.
Last season, in Jones’ rookie year, the Patriots won ten games and went to the playoffs. They had a run of seven consecutive wins in the regular season and Jones played some really solid football. This is probably the peak. It all came crashing down week 16 when they were shredded by Buffalo with a chance to get into the driver’s seat for the division and Jones and the offense just could not keep up.
To make matters worse, they had to go to Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs, and in one of the worst performances of the Belichick era, they lost by 30 in a game where Buffalo scored seven touchdowns on their first seven possessions. As crazy as it sounds, Buffalo is so good right now that the gap between them, Miami, and New England may be as wide as it ever was during the Patriots dominance of the Brady era.
The fact of the matter is that the Patriots, nor the Dolphins, will ever compete in the AFC East with their current situations. So at what point does Robert Kraft decide that it may be time for a hit of the reset button, leave the past in the past, acknowledge Bill Belichick as the greatest coach in the history of the game and state that it is simply time for a change?
As much as it stings to say, I don’t believe this team will ever reach the top of the NFL again with Bill Belichick as the head coach. They are stuck playing a brand of football that flat out is not going to keep up anymore. Tom Brady has been gone for three years, and the Patriots are stuck in the past. We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but it may be time for a coach that can bring them into the future.