After a year of muddling through life with Cam Newton at quarterback, it appeared the New England Patriots struck gold during the 2021 NFL Draft. They took a chance on Alabama QB Mac Jones in the first round, a player who many experts felt wasn’t primed for success in the NFL.
Much to the appeasement of the Patriots, Jones hit the ground running during his rookie season. He led New England to a Wild Card Round appearance and made the Pro Bowl. It was an impressive first year for Jones. However, it’s starting to look like it wasn’t enough for Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft takes a subtle shot at Mac Jones
The Patriots’ playoff experience was short-lived this past season. The Buffalo Bills blew them out 47-17, emphatically showcasing how much better they were than New England.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, it’s becoming clear that this swift playoff exit bothered Robert Kraft quite severely.
“This year will be very telling,” Kraft said via Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
“To come into something as new as this, as established, I think he got beat up pretty bad, and he kept coming back and getting up and really doing some great stuff. Just the way he handles himself, he took some real beatings and hopped up. He has developed a good relationship with the whole cadre of receivers. I’m very happy with what I’ve seen. But this is a big year, the second year.”
Robert Kraft wants to see elite quarterback play, faster rebuilding period
By no means do these comments mean Kraft is “out” on Jones. However, it’s impossible to ignore the Patriots owner’s emphasis on Jones’s second season in the NFL. Kraft doesn’t want to see steady progress from the first-round pick year over year. He wants to see the Patriots return to the dominance they experienced with Tom Brady under center.
For what it’s worth, Kraft is correct to suggest the Patriots need stellar QB play to succeed in today’s NFL. The AFC is loaded with elite quarterback play, including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson.
For New England to return to its level of dominance in the AFC, Jones needs to compete with these players.
Are the Patriots experiencing post-Tom Brady regret?
The simplest way to view these comments from Kraft is someone who is still struggling to live life without Brady at quarterback.
Robert Kraft was Brady’s most prominent supporter in New England. He reportedly begged Brady to stay in 2020 before he ultimately signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mac Jones was solid during his rookie season. However, he’s no Tom Brady. It doesn’t help that Brady has a Super Bowl win and five playoff wins with Tampa Bay while Kraft and the Patriots are still searching for their first playoff win post-Brady.
Is being compared to Brady fair for Mac Jones? No, not at all. However, that’s the brutal reality of being the Patriots’ starting QB. Expectations are sky-high in New England.