Mac Jones, facing the press - and the music - for the first time in a month and a half:
“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Kraft and his family and what they’ve built here and the Patriots. At the end of the day, a lot of that is out of my control, but I hope they realize that I’m going to compete and I’m going to do that wherever I’m at on any NFL team whether it’s here or somewhere else. ...
“I feel like I’ve made progress these past couple weeks. I’ve been here early, left late. A lot of people would have just said I’m done and I’m not going to do that.
“I’ve worked out hard and put on 7-8 pounds of muscle in the last couple of weeks here. That’s where I’m at right now, and that’s why I’m looking forward to the next opportunity. I know it’s going to come, but as a quarterback and competitor you’ve got to be ready right? So, I’m going to be ready.”
These past three years, I've taken a back seat to no one when it's come to Mac Jones. I said he'd be the perfect fit in Foxboro. Predicted the Patriots would draft him. Crowed about it when I was right. And as he was the best among one of the strongest rookie quarterback classes in a generation, won 10 games and led his team to a playoff spot, I was nothing short of impossible to deal with.
Then 2022 happened. And my argument was it happened to Jones, not because of him. Bad coaching hires led to bad coaching decisions and Jones was absolved of all wrongdoing in my mind. And when Bill O'Brien was hired a year ago, all the problems would vanish like FTX money and go back to the way it was in his rookie year. Only better.
Or so I thought. It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. And while I'd very much prefer to be the kind of man who pretends he was right all along or just change the subject, I'm stuck with three years of verifiable wrong opinions I can't walk away from.
It would be a lot easier to be like your relative who said if you get the jab you'll never get Covid and anyone who decides not to should be left to die and now claims they said no such thing. Thanks to literally millions of pageviews, I don't have that luxury. So I wear that mark of shame. Along with the Barstool hoodie of a shirtless Jones smoking a fat cigar in the Alabama locker room. That one got demoted two months ago to yardwork clothes. The mark of shame is forever.
Still, I'm glad for McCorkle that he seems to have the right attitude. That he took the time of his benching, including his healthy scratch this week, to regain his focus, improve his confidence, hit the gym, get stronger, and begin a comeback. Sure, the easy thing is to count him out. But as a young lad I watched a Patriots 1st round quarterback hit the lowest of the lows, get traded, get released, get benched, and then achieve the ultimate football glory. Twice:
Jim Plunkett will forever be the poster child for promising QBs whose careers were buried prematurely. So you write off Jones at your peril.
Then again, as Ned Stark put it, "Everything before the word 'but' is horseshit." And here's Jones's "but. (Yes, I hear myself):
Even if you allow for the fact that that's a pretty specific set of parameters and that there's no direct correlation between where a guy appears on this ranking and how successful his career was (Steven Deberg vs. Peyton Manning, Mitchell Trubisky vs. Russell Wilson), it's still a terrible look for Jones. I say this as a guy who doesn't understand the Passer Rating formula, but respects that it is an accurate measure of performance. When your third season is just 83.2% as productive as your rookie season, that sets off the Red Alert siren. As much as I'd like to try, I don't know where to begin putting coats of varnish on that turd.
There are mitigating factors to be sure. Coaching changes. The lack of an offensive line. The absence of skill position players around him. But anyone trying to resurrect Jones's career has to begin by understanding that at a time when a starting QB is supposed to be getting better with each passing year, he's had the worst drop off over his first three seasons that can be measured. As a fan of McCorkle's, I guess I can be hopeful in that it can't get any worse.