New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones took a step backward during his second season in the NFL playing under an offense led by a combination of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
However, "plenty of people" within the Patriots organization still believe in Jones, a source told NFL Network's Mike Giardi. The source added that 2022 was a "hard year in so many ways" and that there needs to be better structure in New England, but that Jones is "smart, tough and accurate."
Giardi's report follows Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard saying during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Felger & Mazz show (h/t Dakota Randall of NESN) Tuesday that Jones has "universal support" among players in the New England locker room.
Jones and the New England offense had an abysmal season following the departure of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who took a head coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick never formally named an offensive coordinator for the 2022 season, so he relied on a combination of Patricia and Judge to lead the offense, though Patricia appeared to be the play-caller.
The New England offense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2022, averaging 314.6 yards per game—208.0 passing yards and 106.6 rushing yards—which ranked toward the bottom of the league.
Jones entered the 2022 campaign with expectations to improve upon his impressive rookie season, but he didn't come close to meeting them. The 24-year-old completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 2,997 yards and 14 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 14 games as the Patriots finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.
For comparison, he finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2021 after completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The Patriots finished 10-7 before being eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card Round.
There's still reason to believe Jones can be the guy moving forward, and he'll get at least another season or two to show the Patriots that he's capable of being a franchise quarterback.
For Jones to improve, though, the Patriots will need to hire an offensive coordinator ahead of the 2023 campaign. It appears the team is at least looking into several options this offseason.
Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is being considered by Belichick, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer also reported the Patriots have "done their research" on Kingsbury (h/t Justin Leger of NBC Sports).
Additionally, Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, Cleveland Browns passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea and Patriots tight ends coach Nick Caley have been rumored as potential candidates.