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End of an Era: Mac Jones Traded Home to Jacksonville



New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones

The Mac Jones Era for the New England Patriots has come to an end. News broke on Sunday that New England is trading the quarterback to his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots are expected to receive a Day 3 NFL Draft pick in return. It ends a three-year stint that saw Mac Jones go from a promising rookie to a healthy scratch in Foxboro.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report the trade.

Strong Start to NFL Career

New England selected Jones at No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was the fifth quarterback chosen but was the most productive as an NFL rookie. The confidence Jones displayed while helping Alabama win the National Championship in college seemed to carry over to the pros. The season ended with a blowout playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. However, it was a very encouraging start overall.

Mac Jones was the first rookie quarterback in AFC East history to win 10 games. He also broke the AFC East rookie record (previously held by Peyton Manning) for most passing yards. Jones finished the regular season completing 67.6% of his passes for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He ended the season as a Pro Bowl replacement, doing to the griddy.

Jones’ sophomore season in New England did not go as smoothly. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had left to become the Raiders head coach. Mac Jones was visibly frustrated with McDaniels’ replacement Matt Patricia often. He didn’t seem to have any trust in his coaches or his teammates, and it showed. Fans quickly lost faith in Jones. When he was injured in Week 3 against Baltimore, many paid more attention to his visible response than the injury itself.

When Bailey Zappe made his NFL debut in relief the following week against the Green Bay Packers, the book on Mac Jones in New England for many was officially closed for good. Zappe started the next two weeks for New England, looking great. The Patriots won both.

Rough Ending to Time in Foxboro

Mac Jones came back for Week 7 in 2022 to face the Chicago Bears. The Patriots got dominated. Fans screamed for Bill Belichick to bring in Bailey Zappe, which eventually happened. Zappe fared no better. But even those who realized Bailey Zappe wasn’t necessarily the answer in New England didn’t feel much better about Mac Jones. He finished 6-8 in his 14 games as the Patriots starter and New England missed the playoffs. His numbers were down across the board from his rookie season.

New England hired Bill O’Brien to run the offense in 2023. Things were supposed to run smoother, despite it being Jones’ third offensive coordinator in three seasons. Things did not run smoother once the season began, however. Once again, Mac Jones’ numbers got worse, as did the team’s win total. The Patriots finished 4-13, going 2-9 in the 11 games started by Jones.

There were several stories about the end of Jones’ time in New England. This included rumors that Bill Belichick did not talk to him for the rest of the season after benching Jones against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Jones would not play again for the rest of the 2023 season. He finished the year with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Of the 39 NFL quarterbacks with at least 200 dropbacks in 2023, only Atlanta’s Desmond Ridder (51.9) received a lower grade from Pro Football Focus than Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, who finished tied (52.2).

Heading Home

With news of today’s trade, Mac Jones gets a fresh start to his NFL career. He joins a Jacksonville Jaguars team with an excellent opportunity to win the AFC South. Jacksonville has a starting quarterback in Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft) and Jones will serve as his backup. It is a good opportunity for Jones to try and regain his confidence with the pressure that came along with being the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.

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