’Tis the season for thanks, gratitude and appreciation for the good things we have in this life. Patriots fans have much to be thankful for, and we’re not just talking about the previous championships, memories and merchandise. The team is sitting at 8-4, atop the AFC East, seeded second in the conference and winners of six in a row.
The team’s sudden success may alter the fans’ holiday wish list from hoping their team is relevant, to fawning over postseason possibilities. Maybe they’re even dreaming of the Super Bowl! An unreal thought given where the team and fans were emotionally just a month and a half back.
But before we look to the potential of mid-January football returning to Foxboro, we should take a moment to show gratitude for the abundance of new players finding their form in Foxboro, like Matt Judon, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, among others. They all arrived via free agency and have found a lot of success on the field. But the perfect gift given to New England last spring, a gift they chose when it was available to them, is arguably the most important piece of the Patriots success, both in the now and the future. And as we can see he really shouldn’t have been available to them at all.
Thank you, NFL, for allowing Mac Jones to fall to the New England Patriots.
Jones has been a huge success in his first season in Foxboro, likely a bigger success than anyone could have predicted. He gained the confidence of his coaches immediately, unseating a veteran QB in Cam Newton for the starting job. He’s been a steady hand under center, executing a complicated pro offense, guiding the team with fundamentally sound play to their 8-4 record. He’s become an instant fan favorite, for both providing the potential of a franchise QB as well as helping end the hangover of Tom Brady’s departure. His poise, intelligence and intensity has caught the eye of media locally and nationally, seemingly a perfect fit in New England’s system, and on this team, a team who values him tremendously. The faith the team showed in him has been rewarded massively, and then some.
The stats and superlatives are manyfold...
Jones is the leading candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Jones' stats have far outpaced all 2021 rookie QBs, and this past month, in which the Patriots went 4-0, was nothing short of outstanding. Who knows how someone so good, so perfect for the Patriots, could have fallen to them in the middle of the first round? Who knows, but given that the holidays are here it’s time to show some gratitude to those who made it happen outside of Gillette Stadium.
Thank you, New York Jets, not just for being you, but also for taking BYU’s Zach Wilson second overall. Wilson may one day find a way to unlock his potential and turn his athleticism into victories, but for now the struggle is real. Even Jones might not have saved the Jets.
Thank you, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers for trading up to No. 3 overall and opting to draft Trey Lance. Patriots fans greatly appreciate your overthinking your initial instinct, as rumors had it the Niners were in on the Alabama product and saw him as pro ready (nailed the assessment!). Perhaps Lance will become the next Andrew Luck or Steve McNair. Joe Montana doesn’t really care, he wanted Jones in San Francisco.
Thank you, Carolina Panthers, for passing on the quarterback coach Matt Rhule coached and really liked at the Senior Bowl, instead opting to trade for Sam Darnold from the Jets and drafting cornerback Jaycee Horn. The latter, who landed on IR for the season, looks to be a defensive talent. The former is broken and still sees ghosts, leading the Panthers to re-hire their former QB, the one Jones beat out in New England, Cam Newton.
Thank you, Chicago Bears, for trading up and choosing Justin Fields over Jones. Fields has shown flashes of his skill, strength and speed this season, but his team is kind of a mess, and his coach is likely a goner. Perhaps Josh McDaniels will get a chance to develop Fields next season the way he has Jones this season, but that’s far down the line and reasonably speculative.
Thank you, New York Giants, for trading with the Bears so they could take Fields over Jones. Doing your former coach a solid, very cool.
Thank you Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets (again!) for not trading with anyone like the New Orleans Saints or Washington Football Team to snag Jones before he went to New England.
Thank you, Sean Payton, for not pulling the trigger on a deal to trade up and take Jones before New England did at No. 15 overall. Appreciate the interest and the lack of action. Every time Payton watches Trevor Siemian throw to nobody, or see Taysom Hill collect a check to do nothing in New Orleans, he has to wish he made the deal.
Thank you every other team who drafted after the Patriots and didn’t trade up for Jones.
And thank you whoever took the photo of him with his shirt off, smoking a cigar. His pudgy physique and lack of muscular definition likely helped give pause to some GMs, scouts and coaches, allowing his stock to dip just enough so he fell to the Pats.
These are just some of the many people, teams, organizations and more outside of the Patriots to be grateful for this holiday season, and perhaps for years to come. It’s early to pass full judgment on any of the other signal callers taken in front of Jones. And no need to thank the Jacksonville Jaguars. They did the obvious taking Trevor Lawrence first overall. He’s going to be great one day -- we think -- unless Jacksonville gets the best of him. Stranger things have happened.
Perhaps one day the QBs taken ahead of Jones, and the people who chose to pass on him, will be part of their own documentary like, “The Brady Six”, call it, “The Mac Four, and More." Only time will tell, but in the meantime we offer heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved in Jones coming to New England.
Until that day, if it ever comes, on behalf of a grateful Pats Nation, who had to go a whole season without a franchise QB and hope for the future, to all those who helped Jones land in New England, thank you.