A lot of the blame for the New England Patriots’ offensive struggles in 2022 fell on the coaching staff. However, quarterback Mac Jones also received his fair share of criticism — so much so that his status as the future of the franchise is now being questioned on Boston sports talk radio on a regular basis.
Count Devin McCourty among those not buying into the noise. The long-time Patriots captain, who spent the last two seasons sharing a locker room with Jones, appeared on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Monday and made a strong endorsement in favor of the third-year passer.
Praising him as the “future of New England,” McCourty pushed back against criticism coming Jones’ way — making comparisons to the talk about benching Tom Brady in favor of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 (a season that famously ended rejuvenating Brady en route to winning three more Super Bowls with the Patriots).
“What I’ll say about Mac is: the Combine is sponsored by No Bull this year; Mac is “no bull,” McCourty said. “They know the future is Mac Jones, and I’m excited for this guy this year because now you get Billy O’Brien coming in as an offensive coordinator. Great success. Has done well everywhere he’s been offensively. He gets to come in and now work with Mac.
“He’s going to have stability around him. I think the team is going to get another guy to be a receiver in that offense, hopefully bring my guy Jakobi Meyers back and be a part of it.”
Coming off an encouraging rookie season that saw him lead the Patriots to the playoffs in 2021, Jones seemingly regressed in Year 2. How much exactly the coaching turnover contributed to this will never be known, but the fact is that the setup — New England went from long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels to the rather inexperienced duo of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge leading the offense — did not do him any favors.
The Patriots acknowledged the issue this offseason, hiring Bill O’Brien to take over the positions held by Patricia (offensive play-caller) and Judge (quarterbacks coach). For McCourty, this is a positive development.
“I’m excited because last year, you come in, you have movement,” he said. “You got to work with Josh McDaniels, who I think is one of the best offensive minds in this league. You get to work with him your rookie year, and then you get Matty P with a mixture of Joe Judge, with coach [Bill] Belichick — all guys new to calling the actual offense. Obviously, Bill, more experienced than any coach in the NFL as a head coach, really, but it’s just so much movement, so much change.”
McCourty went on to praise Jones’ leadership abilities and willingness to prove to the team that he can be “the guy” at the quarterback position.
“It’s only your second year, but I think it speaks volumes he’s a captain in this locker room in his second year,” he said. “And he really was a captain the year before as a rookie, leading those guys.
“So, I’m excited for Mac. I think sky’s the limit. I think he’s the future of New England. Any doubts, I think you’re wrong if you don’t think he’s the future. He’s in that building right now doing different things — working with guys, talking to guys. That’s what he wants. He wants to be that quarterback.”