The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Patriots Post Mortem: What Mac Jones Needs to Do During the Off Season

Posted on | January 22, 2022 | 1 Comment

It’s been nearly a week since the Patriots got humiliated by the Bills in last Saturday’s playoff game, and I’ve been procrastinating on doing a post mortem analysis of New England’s 2021 season. Y’all know the story — the Patriots drafted Mac Jones from Alabama, and thereby recruited me as a fan, because Roll Tide! — and one painful aspect of Mac’s rookie season was hearing commentators slag him as having a “weak arm,” unable to throw deep, a slander that made me want to do a Chris Crocker “Leave Britney alone!” video to defend my ’Bama boy.

Surely Mac himself must be aware of this “weak arm” slander, which got repeated for the umpteen-millionth time this week:

An anonymous AFC executive expressed this point while talking to Pro Football Focus’ Dough Kyed.
“He’s cerebral, but his arm is weak, which will hurt him in that division in cold-weather games,” the exec said. “Good rookie year but [he] needs a lot of things around him.”
Jones has the trust of his teammates and Bill Belichick appears to be sticking around — so, a lot of the kinks can be worked out during the offseason. But, the Patriots must find a way to put the right playmakers around Jones to make up for the lack of arm strength.

This offends me — I feel personally insulted, as I imagine most other Alabama fans do — because during his national championship season with the Crimson Tide, we saw with our own eyes that Mac Jones was equal or superior to any other college quarterback in his ability to throw deep. I’ve embedded the highlight video here before, and there’s no need to do so again. Google it. Whenever I hear this “weak arm” line, the question occurs to my mind: “Compared to who?” Which of this season’s rookie quarterbacks had more deep throws than Mac? My guess would be none of them, since Mac was indisputably the best of last year’s QB draft crop. If you want to compare him to established veterans like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott, that’s one thing I suppose, but to state flatly that Jones suffers from a “lack of arm strength” for which he must “make up” is just counterfactual. Leave Mac Jones alone!

It also occurs to me, however, that Mac Jones ought to be angry about this. He ought to take it as a challenge — a gauntlet flung at his feet — and make up his mind to develop The Strongest Arm in NFL History™.


Mac Jones should be hitting that weight room like Arnold Schwarzenegger preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest, with the determination to silence his detractors by becoming the most muscular quarterback ever to play professional football. His goal should be nothing less than to become a freak of superhuman strength, so that when he drops back to pass, the defense is astonished when — HULK SMASH! — he flings the ball 60 or 70 yards downfield. Certainly, the Patriots have the kind of trainers and nutrition specialists who can help Mac maximize his potential, but he himself must make up his mind to commit to achieving this goal. There are about 26 weeks between now and the last week of July, when NFL training camps open, and if Mac Jones were to dedicate those weeks to a really serious strength training regimen, the quarterback who reports for the Patriots camp in late summer will be unmistakably stronger than the one we saw last season.

For the next 26 weeks, Mac Jones ought to be working out like Rocky Balboa training for his big match with Apollo Creed — not just lifting harder in the gym than he’s ever done during his entire career, but also doing drills to improve every aspect of his game. He seems to have become good friends with his New England teammates, including tight end Hunter Henry, and there’s no reason Mac can’t get together with his buddies a few times a week to throw the football around. And maybe Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could show up for these informal friendly get-togethers, IYKWIMAITYD.

There has been a lot of praise for Mac’s leadership qualities, and during this off season he ought to lead by example in terms of commitment to a physical conditioning program — HULK SMASH! — so that the entire team is inspired to become bigger, stronger and faster next season.

Various commentators have weighed in on what the Patriots need to do in terms of the 2022 NFL draft and acquiring free agents. Everybody seems to agree that New England needs a true No. 1 wide receiver, someone who strikes fear into opposing defenses, and the name of Alabama’s Jameson Williams has come up. Of course, adding more Alabama players to their roster (in addition to Mac, the Patriots also have Crimson Tide alumni Christian Barmore, Damien Harris and Dont’a Hightower) would be an excellent idea, but if Williams isn’t available, or if there are doubts about his recovery from an ACL injury, I like Alex Barth’s suggestion of Wan’Dale Robinson from Kentucky.

Robinson was a big reason why Kentucky had a 10-3 record this past year, upsetting No. 10 Florida (watch Wan’Dale’s 41-yard TD) in October and beating No. 15 Iowa in the Citrus Bowl, where Wan’Dale caught 10 passes for 170 yards. Various mock drafts have Robinson going in the second or even third round and, if Jameson Williams gets picked in the first round before the Patriots get their turn, why not do this: Take Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard in the first round, then get Robinson in the second round? That way you’ve got two Kentucky players and they won’t feel so homesick up in New England, and Kinnard will be motivated to block harder to protect Mac, since that will help his teammate Wan’Dale get more catches. On the other hand, there’s a lot of talk that the Patriots need to improve their defense, so it’s probable that one of their first- or second-round picks will be a linebacker or defensive back, but I still like the Kinnard-Robinson package deal from Kentucky, just like the Mac Jones/Christian Barmore package deal Belichick got from Alabama last year, then maybe make your defensive drafts in the third and fourth rounds, and add some free agents on defense.

It never seemed to me that Mac Jones was really a problem for New England in his rookie season. Their offensive line was a problem early in the season, and there were too many dropped passes by their receivers, but their defense kept them competitive until late in the season when they inexplicably fell apart. Probably it was naive of me to think the Patriots could be a Super Bowl contender in what was still a rebuilding year for the team, but they made the playoffs, which was an important step, and if they can add just two or three more pieces to their puzzle, I like their chances for next season, especially if Mac Jones will spend the next six months in HULK SMASH! mode. Make it happen.



One Response to “Patriots Post Mortem: What Mac Jones Needs to Do During the Off Season”

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