The NFL has always been a what-have-you-done-lately league. Mac Jones is finding that out the hard way in his second season with the Patriots.
No one seems to care anymore how good Jones was as a rookie when he had one of the best debut seasons in recent memory. Now, all the talk is focusing on why Jones has looked so uncomfortable through two games in 2022 and when that second-year leap everyone is looking for is going to manifest itself.
During a discussion of Jones' NFL future on "The Greg Hill Show," Boston Globe NFL reporter Ben Volin threw more cold water on the young quarterback's hype train.
"I don't think he's earned that tenure yet for the Patriots to say, 'That's it. We found our guy. For the next decade we're set at quarterback.' That's way too premature if you ask me," Volin said. "Let's see how they really feel about Mac Jones in two years when it's time to give him a new contract and middling quarterbacks are making $40-plus million a year. Let's see how much they really love Mac Jones then.
"I'm not closing the door on him by any stretch, but he has a long way to go to prove that he is the guy."
Volin specifically rebutted a comment made by CBS analyst Charles Davis during the broadcast of Sunday's game against the Steelers suggesting Jones would likely be the Patriots' quarterback for the next 10 years.
"It would be great if the transition were that easy and you could just hand off the team. But what has he really shown you in his 20 games in the NFL?" he added about Jones. "He certainly hasn't proven he can hang with Josh Allen and the elite quarterbacks. That's what we expect around here. It's not just making the playoffs; it's trying to win a Super Bowl."
On one hand, Volin's not wrong. Jones hasn't done enough yet to unequivocally convince anyone he is a sure bet a quarterback for the next 10 years in Foxborough, though he's certainly trying to position himself that way.
On the other hand…duh. How many second-year quarterbacks could you have ever said that about two starts into their second season?
Not every quarterback can immediately come out and light the world on fire the way Patrick Mahomes did and immediately win an MVP and Super Bowl -- by the way, that took him having arguably the best situation any first-year starter has ever had, which Mac Jones and his other second-year peers don't have currently.
In fact, the quarterback the Patriots are about to face on Sunday -- Lamar Jackson -- won MVP with a hell-raising first year as a starter and still faces questions about whether he's truly "the guy" for Baltimore long-term.
Josh Allen, the man everyone is lusting for out in Buffalo, was a roller-coaster in his second season before magically dropping his MVP-runner-up campaign on the league in 2020.
Though Jones doesn't have the raw physical gifts those other quarterbacks have, he clearly hasn't reached the pinnacle of his game yet. As such, the need for context and time to evaluate him fully are clear.
The bottom line: even with 20 starts under his belt, Jones' story as an NFL starter is far from written at this point, and he has plenty of time to pick up his game in this new offense. Even by the end of this season, the conversation could be much different about his 2022 performance than it is now.
But even if it is, this rather pedestrian roster and offensive experiment the Patriots are trying likely means we won't truly know if Jones is "the guy" or not until next year.