Mac Jones immediate health and playing status for the Patriots is like one of his deep balls intended for DeVante Parker – hanging in the air right now.
The reported high ankle sprain suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Ravens is going to sideline the second-year New England quarterback for some time. Second opinions are being sought. Surgery remains an option.
Optimistic speculation has pondered the possibility that Jones, who was in obvious and significant pain when he left the Gillette Stadium field after the final offensive play against Baltimore, could miss as little as two weeks of work.
More pessimistic projections put Jones’ absence at more like two months.
Either way, two things are certain right now, Jones is not going to be playing for some period of time and journeyman veteran backup Brian Hoyer is going to be taking the field in his absence beginning Sunday in Green Bay.
Certainly, the situation is less than ideal for a Patriots team already facing plenty of challenges in its 1-2 start to the new season. There’s a reason that Jones is the starter, regardless of what you think of his performance to date. There’s a reason that Hoyer is a backup who hasn’t started a game since early 2020 and hasn’t won an NFL start (0 for his last 11) since his Bears beat the Lions in Week 4 of 2016.
But when life serves you up some lemons in this modern world, well you order those magic pills from Amazon that miraculously make those lemons taste as sweet as sugar!
In some weird way, some crazy unforeseen twist of time, might there actually be some positives to be had from Jones missing time? Like a Hoyer deep ball this Sunday at Lambeau Field that may or may not have what it takes to reach its intended target, we’re going to take our shot at seeking silver linings to Jones missing some unknown period of time. We’re gonna catch those lemons that life is tossing our way and suck on their Amazon-altered sweet juices!
Perspective? – Experience is key to the development of any young quarterback. Jones has been going non-stop gaining experience since the day he was drafted. He experienced a competition with Cam Newton for the starting job. He won that competition easily. He experienced starting all 17 games as a rookie. He experienced an embarrassing blowout loss in the postseason after leading his team back to the playoffs. One thing that Jones has not experienced is watching from the sidelines. Seeing how a game unfolds without him. Seeing a different perspective of Hoyer playing and then coming to the bench to make adjustments. Seeing the mechanics of the new offense under Matt Patricia’s direction without being caught up in the actual heat of the battle. This may seem weird, but many a player has noted in the past at various positions that being forced to sit out games with an injury actually gave them a different perspective on the game, on their job and the challenges of it. Jones is certainly going to get a new perspective in the coming weeks, one he’s never had before at any level of football in terms of missing time due to an injury. Maybe, just maybe, that will pay dividends down the line.
Appreciation? – This one isn’t as much about Jones as it is about everyone around him. No disrespect to Hoyer, but Jones is a more talented, accomplished quarterback. But that is a reality that seems to have been lost on some in recent months, maybe even some inside the Patriots organization. Seeing New England take the field for even just a couple games under Hoyer’s guidance may just rekindle or recalibrate an appreciation for Jones’ abilities. Critics may love to fall into the trap of pointing out that Jones is no Tom Brady, but in a couple of weeks they may come to realize that he’s also no Hoyer. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, maybe missing Jones for a few weeks will remind people that he did some pretty impressive things as a rookie and there’s a reason he was the No. 15 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Maybe.
Opportunity? – OK, admittedly, this one is a bit extreme. We’ll call it the Bengals plan. And to see the positive nature of it you may have to squint your eyes and turn your head to the side just a bit like a dog pondering his master’s unfamiliar commands. The harsh reality of last year is that the Patriots aren’t contenders. The Bills certainly proved that last winter. New England doesn’t have enough playmakers or elite talent to truly compete with the best of the NFL’s best. Elite talent is generally available in the early part of the first round of the NFL Draft. The only way to get into the early part of the first round of the NFL Draft is to have a bad record. Having a record bad enough to be in that spot with Jones leading the way would be concerning, but getting into that spot because Hoyer is atop the QB depth chart is far more understandable. Remember when ML Carr “led” the Celtics to what was supposed to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Lottery? Hoyer could do the same for the Patriots. At best the Patriots were supposed to be a .500 team in 2022. Now, no longer at their best with Jones sidelined, they might just have the makings of a top-10 or top-5 draft pick. If that’s how it plays out, embrace it. It’s not tanking, but rather an unfortunate set of circumstances that leads to a fortunate opportunity. Look at the Bengals. Joe Burrow got hurt. The record was bad. They drafted Ja’Marr Chase. And they went to the Super Bowl. You want the Patriots to go back to the Super Bowl, don’t you? Maybe Jones’ injury is part of that path.
So, how’d we do? Did we put a positive spin on a seemingly bad situation in New England? Well, we tried. Just like Hoyer will try his best to fill in for Jones in the coming weeks!
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