Mac Jones surprised everyone with his performance as a rookie for the New England Patriots in 2021.
New England selected Jones with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and the decision immediately paid dividends.
The Alabama product won the starting job entering the season and went 10-7 as a rookie, making a surprise Pro Bowl appearance and finishing second in rookie of the year voting as well.
But year two was a different story.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left to become the Las Vegas Raiders head coach and Jones struggled. Injuries and turnovers piled up as Jones went just 6-8 in his 14 starts.
There also appeared to be clear unrest in and around the New England locker room regarding Jones’ attitude.
Patriots coaches were even asked to “coddle” Jones according to Fox Sports’ Henry McKenna.
“Eventually, Jones said he wanted to be coached harder. A team source told me that coaches were instructed not to be too hard on Jones in an effort to protect him from being too critical of himself,” McKenna reported. “There was an issue in 2021 with Jones struggling after getting yelled at, per the source. That source also suggested, in hindsight, it might have been a mistake to go easy on the quarterback.”
But now it’s a new season. Jones has a new offensive coordinator, with Bill O’Brien making his return to New England.
And ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that he’s hoping to start anew.
“Sometimes the most confident people come from a year where they might not have been their best. I feel like that’s where I’m at,” Jones said recently. “Really great people are formed through ups and downs. Some of the learning experiences I had last year will really help. There’s a lot of things I can do better as a person, as a player.”
He then made a pledge.
“I’m going to do everything I can to earn the respect of everybody in this building again,” Jones said.
Playing well on the field would go a long way to doing just that.