There appears to be something of a collective worry in the air concerning the development of New England Patriots QB Mac Jones. The second-year QB had the best statistical season of any rookie QBs in the NFL in 2021, suggesting that even bigger things await him in Year 2.
Instead, thanks to concerns about how the Patriots will fill the void left by Josh McDaniels, who bolted his offensive coordinator role in New England to become the Las Vegas Raiders‘ head coach, Jones’ athletic limitations and a still underwhelming set of weapons, some suggest he’s headed for a regression.
Because of Jones’ insistence on placing a positive spin on things when asked about the Patriots offense, he has developed an unflattering nickname, “Monotone Mac.”
The entire dynamic has Chad Finn of the Boston Globe wondering whether Jones was intentionally placed in a position to struggle during training camp.
“If not for [Cincinnati] Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s dazzling first season, Jones would have been Offensive Rookie of the Year,” Finn wrote.
Chase wasn’t just the best rookie in the NFL on offense in 2021. He was arguably the best receiver in the league though you’ll get a strong argument from Davante Adams and Chase’s college teammate Justin Jefferson.
“Which is why it was so frustrating during training camp that it felt like he was almost being set up to fail at times, particularly when the Patriots would run their new, Kyle Shanahan-style zone-block running plays against a defense fully prepared for what was coming,” Finn added.
Was the Patriots’ defense giving the cheat codes against the offense to give Jones the toughest looks he’ll see all season, or was it all just a part of what will prove to be a flawed plan by New England? Rather than hiring experienced play-callers to take over for McDaniels, Bill Belichick elected to turn to two former disciples who had failed as head coaches: Joe Judge (New York Giants) and Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions), to take up the slack. It appears the latter will have the most responsibilities in this area, though he has never been a play-caller in the NFL.
“Of course, it would be preposterous to suggest that Belichick, who is 26 wins away from tying Don Shula for the most in NFL history, playoffs included, is setting up his young quarterback to fail,” Finn acknowledged. “This, I believe, is where Belichick stands: He wholly believes in Patricia as a coach, and we’re all going to find out if that faith is justified.”
If Plan A fails, Belichick’s Plan B might be for him to take over the play-calling himself.
Injury Update on Patriots Ty Montgomery
A key weapon for Jones and the Patriots’ offense in Week 1 and beyond could be RB/WR Ty Montgomery. After suffering an injury in the final preseason game that kept him out of practice for more than a week, Montgomery returned on Wednesday.
He was limited in practice, but any participation was a good sign considering he was carted off the field against the Raiders. Patriots and Dolphins fans and fantasy football owners should continue to watch for an update as Montgomery could play as a third-down option for New England on Sunday.
Patriots’ Mac Jones Fantasy Value Week 1 Vs. Dolphins
Amidst all of the uncertainty, does Jones have any value to fantasy football owners in Week 1 vs. the Dolphins? The answer is yes, but I’d be cautious.
New England will almost certainly look to establish the run, and that will be the foundation of their offense most of the season. However, I’d expect to see Jones air it out and look to take more shots downfield to guys like Nelson Agholor and former Dolphins WR DeVante Parker.
Likewise, TE Jonnu Smith seems to be poised to make some noise on naked bootlegs, and other misdirection pass plays. Still, the Dolphins could make things difficult with their aggressive pass rush and we’re still not sure how much Jones will be turned loose to throw the ball.