Can the New England Patriots build around Mac Jones or has the second year QB already peaked?
August 10, 2022
Last year’s late-season fade is still a fresh memory, as the Pats try to prove they’re a contender
NFL Preview – New England Patriots
By Steve Quinne
Win Total = 8.5
This feels like a layup. A Bill Belichick-coached team simply having to finish above .500? When is that not a lock?
Two years ago, the Patriots finished 7-9 during the odd, COVID season. Prior to that, New England hadn’t finished with a losing record since 2000. That’s a gap of 20 years between sub-.500 campaigns.
So, the odds are certainly in favor of the over. Taking the under means predicting an aberration instead of the norm.
But there are reasons to lean in that direction. Recent history being the strongest indication.
A year ago, the Patriots bounced back to finish 10-7. With rookie quarterback Mac Jones at the helm, they earned a wild-card berth.
In that game, however, New England was exposed. Josh Allen and the Bills scored on every offensive possession, blowing the doors off the Patriots in a 47-17 laugher.
That was the culmination of a bad finish to the season. At one point, Belichick’s team was 9-4. The Pats lost three out of four down the stretch, limped into the playoffs and then got embarrassed on national TV.
That suggests that teams started to figure out Jones. Once there was a book on the first year QB, he struggled.
In the final five games of the season, Jones threw just five touchdowns, while also tossing five interceptions. He only had a passer rating above 100.0 once during that span, which came in the Patriots lone victory, a blowout of the Jaguars.
Now, the quarterback will try to reverse that trend without his offensive coordinator. Josh McDaniels is the head coach in Las Vegas, creating another challenge for Jones.
Outside of the AFC East, the Patriots will face the AFC North and the NFC North. That’ll include trips to Green Bay and Minnesota, plus visits from Baltimore and Cincinnati. New England also faces Arizona, Indianapolis and Las Vegas.
It’s a tough slate, one that doesn’t include the normal number of gimmes. It’ll lead to something unusual, the Pats finishing below .500. Take the under.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl = 50/1
While the under looks like the smart play, that doesn’t mean a hedge wouldn’t be in order. After all, this is Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in the history of the National Football League.
The 70-year-old head coach is still hanging around for a reason; he wants to prove that the six Lombardi Trophies his team won were because of him, not Tom Brady. He’s clearly motivated to prove the naysayers wrong.
The Patriots are the best professional sports organization in this millennium. They’ve won six Super Bowls and been to nine during that period. So it wouldn’t be a total shock if they went to another one.
Getting Belichick and the Pats at +5000? That’s certainly worth a flier. Stranger things have happened, that’s for sure.
Tyquan Thornton to Win Offensive Rookie of the Year = 80/1
The Patriots have a revamped wide receiver corp. They brought in DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor as veteran additions, while also drafting Tyquan Thornton in the second round.
The speedster out of Baylor will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact. He’ll be a deep threat for Mac Jones and the new-look Patriots offense.
If Jones can build upon his solid rookie season, he’ll need to find a go-to receiver. On a team devoid of big-name talent, perhaps a rookie can emerge as that player.
It’s not likely, which is why the odds are long. But again, the Patriots have a way of surprising people.
This is a franchise notorious for draft flops at wide receiver. So, it would be very New England of them to suddenly produce a longshot Offensive Rookie of the Year at that position.