We'll learn a lot about Mac Jones as a quarterback in 2023. The New England Patriots signal-caller will look to regain his rookie season form after a tumultuous sophomore campaign.
Having Bill O'Brien as his new offensive coordinator should help, but the Patriots should also prioritize bolstering their offensive line and receiving corps this offseason. Jones showed at points during the disappointing season that when he gets help, he can be the QB the Patriots hoped they were getting when they drafted him 15th overall in 2021.
In fact, the numbers prove Jones can get the job done if put in a position to succeed. On a new episode of the Next Pats Podcast, NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund joins Phil Perry to point out an advanced metric that shows Jones can still be special.
Next Pats Podcast: One advanced metric suggests Mac Jones could be SPECIAL | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube
"I really look at, the best you can do is what you can do from a clean pocket," Frelund said. "Because most quarterbacks get pressured on about a third of their dropbacks. Some games it's more, some games it's less, but let's just call it 30 percent as an average. So what are you doing on those other two-thirds where you're not under pressure? Are you throwing precisely to a lot of the route tree? Because there are some things to always take into consideration. Does your wide receiver run the routes that you're expecting? What was the play call? Clean pocket, that to me is your ceiling. ...
"I think Mac Jones is in a good spot. First of all, he'll have Bill O'Brien. I think he's going to create a system that makes a lot of sense. Obviously the familiarity, this Alabama connection, all these things."
Curran: Back to elite? That'll be a matter of dollars and sense for Pats, Jones
Perry dug deeper into Frelund's metric with some Pro Football Focus numbers that bode well for Jones’ future.
"Mac Jones, about 71 percent of his dropbacks were not pressured. ... 246 attempts, he has a completion percentage of 71.7. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt from a clean pocket. He had 11 touchdowns against just three picks from a clean pocket," Perry said.
"It turns out he has the fifth-best grade of any quarterback with at least 100 dropbacks last year when kept clean. So this was a dysfunctional Patriots offense, this was a substandard Patriots offense. If they were even close to just average, you'd probably be looking at a nine or 10-win team. A team that makes it into the postseason. Mac Jones trails only, in terms of 'kept clean' grades: Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, and Trevor Lawrence."
Also in the new episode: Frelund breaks down what the Patriots should do to improve in free agency and the draft this season, and Perry hares his latest seven-round mock draft and who he expects the Patriots to take this spring.
Check out the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch it on YouTube below: