Mac Jones did not have the 2022 season he was hoping for with the New England Patriots, and everyone, even Jones himself, knows this. The Pats had a chance to sneak into the playoffs and make something out of a seemingly lost season, but instead, they lost winnable games and were eliminated from postseason contention on the final week of the season. Of course, as the team's quarterback, Jones played a role in those struggles.

After making it to the Pro Bowl and the playoffs in his rookie campaign, failing to make it to either of those spots in 2022 was viewed as a massive step back for Jones. The young quarterback out of Alabama went from looking like the Patriots next quarterback of the future to a guy who could be fighting for his job in training camp this spring, which may actually be the case in some regard.

That has set the stage for a pivotal season in Jones' young career in the NFL with the Patriots. Jones is going to have to put together a bounce back campaign, or else he could find himself without a spot on New England's roster after this season. Everyone seems to know this, and it looks like even Jones himself is aware of the stakes he finds himself facing heading into 2023.

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Mac Jones set for make-or-break year in 2023 with Patriots

Jones opened his NFL career with a solid if unspectacular rookie campaign for New England (352/521, 3801 YDS, 22 TD, 13 INT), but again, he was a Pro Bowler and led the team to the playoffs. Jones' follow up season wasn't nearly as good (288/442, 2997 YDS, 14 TD, 11 INT) and while he missed three games along the way, it's safe to say that he was a mess when he was actually on the field.

Is all of this Jones' fault? Certainly not. The Patriots gave him virtually no help on the coaching staff, with the incompetent Matt Patricia and Joe Judge being his two main points of contact, no additional help on offense, and an unexpected quarterback competition with Bailey Zappe that largely could have been avoided entirely.

The slate has been wiped clean to start the 2023 season, though. Jones is healthy, has an experienced offensive coordinator to lean on in Bill O'Brien, and some new weapons to help him lead the offense. Nobody is going to say this team is one of the best in the league, but Jones should be able to lead New England to a record above .500 after failing to do so last year.

Given how the Pats play in the loaded AFC East, chances are reasonable expectations for this team aren't going to be high. However, New England fans don't accept anything less than winning, and as the leader of the team's offense, when they struggle, Jones is going to take his fair burden of the blame. And in a way, it looks like Jones is aware of the tough odds he will be facing.

Via Mark Daniels:

“Mac Jones: ‘Everyone is entitled to opinion, but all I’m going to do is run my race and hopefully everyone will run right behind me… and do everything I can to earn respect from everyone in this building again. From there, go out and win some games.'”

For the Patriots, this attitude from Jones should be a fairly encouraging sight. The 2022 season was not a good one in any regard for New England, with Jones being right at the center of the mess. The same problems cannot emerge again in 2023, and while the games don't start for another three months, it looks like Jones wants to contribute to eliminating the problems that plagued this team last season.

But in the grand scheme of things, what other choice does he have? If Jones fails, Zappe is waiting right behind him to potentially take his snaps, and you can bet after 2022 that Jones' leash is a lot shorter than it was last year. Jones has to work on improving himself and rebuilding his credibility, both inside and outside the locker room, if he intends on making things work.

It's only June, but it feels like the pressure is already on Jones. Every move he makes, whether good or bad, will be noted by critics, but it appears as if he knows this. Whether or not this will lead to an improvement in his play remains to be seen, but for now, it looks like Jones knows the challenge he is facing, so now it's time to see whether or not he is going to be able to excel with these massive stakes in front of him.