In comments reported by ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, Aikman compared Jones to former Patriots great Tom Brady and said the Alabama product “possesses everything you need to win in the NFL.”
In addition to the positive comments about Jones, Aikman expressed some concern for the unconventional approach to offense by the Patriots.
“It seemed like him and Josh [McDaniels] had a really great relationship,” Aikman said. “And that becomes hard because there’s so much that happens within a game, within a practice; there’s frustration, the quarterback’s taking the heat, they’re not doing this — to have a guy you can really confide in, there’s so much to that relationship that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet or even on game day. That’s going to be a hard position to fill, and a hard position for Mac to get comfortable.”
The main concept Aikman seems to be referring to is concerns about Jones’ support system on the team. A second-year quarterback, even one coming off a somewhat strong rookie year, still needs an experienced offensive coach or mentor on the team. The Patriots don’t have that, at least not on the staff.
Mac Jones’ Options for a Confidant
With all due respect, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge aren’t great options to be Jones’ confidant and sounding board this season. Before training camp in 2022, those two had the same level of experience calling plays as Jones, so it’ll be difficult for him to lean on them for additional understanding of concepts they’re just beginning to grasp themselves.
Quite honestly, the best option for Jones is probably his veteran backup quarterback, Brian Hoyer. The 36-year-old, 13-year veteran has seen it all, and he’s also been with the organization for a total of seven years across two stints.
Hoyer was probably most valuable to the Patriots this season because of his experience and the chemistry he established with Jones in 2021. Hoyer is seemingly at peace with his role as a backup and mentor to Jones, which makes him the best guy to fill the role Aikman was referring to with his comments.
Is it Crazy to Imagine a Scenario Where Mac Jones Loses His Job?
Jones is firmly planted as the franchise quarterback, but things can change quickly in the NFL. If he were to hit a major stumbling block or struggle mightily through the first three or four weeks, it wouldn’t be beyond Bill Belichick to make a change at quarterback.
In fact, Hoyer’s presence likely makes it more likely something like that could happen. If the only other option behind Jones was rookie Bailey Zappe, a change under center would be less likely.
However, with a veteran like Hoyer, who looked solid during training camp and preseason, on the roster, there is a scenario where Jones could find himself holding a clipboard.
We’re a long away from that, but if Jones lays a few eggs, expect the conversation to pick up.