Ignore the noise, the Patriots’ future is still all about Mac Jones


Last Saturday night’s disastrous playoff loss in Buffalo at the hands of the bullying Bills has shook Patriot Nation.

Disasters tend to do that. In their destructive wake they leave endless chatter and speculation. What could have been done to prevent it? How can the mess be cleaned up? What measures must be taken to avoid such mishaps in the future?

This is no different.

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Despite a 10-win season and a return trip to the playoffs that led to this very distasteful end result, angst is predictably and maybe unnecessarily running wild in New England.

Some now believe the state of the Patriots is "glum,” barely two months after New England was promoted as an odds-on Super Bowl contender.

Others look at the late-season struggles – indeed the Patriots lost four of the final five games they played and failed to measure up to playoff-worthy competition – and surmise that the NFL’s No. 2 defense in points allowed was a chaotic unit with too many coaching cooks in the kitchen to possibly find success.

Vocal criticism has even befallen rookie starting quarterback Mac Jones, calling into question his contributions, his talents and his future less than a week after he was the rare rookie to lead his team to the playoffs.

Would the Patriots have been better off if they’d somehow landed Cowboys impact defender Micah Parsons in the draft? Suddenly that’s a topic that some Elvis logo-loving fans accept as debatable.

Oh, let’s not leave out the seemingly universal lust for a playmaking pass catcher that has some so fired up that they’re talking themselves into the idea that Braxton Berrios or Isaiah McKenzie would somehow be more than additional complementary parts to the middling passing attack. Or so blinded by pass-happy desire that they’ve talked themselves into the idea that the Falcons would want disappointing left tackle Isaiah Wynn and his $10-plus million salary in a trade for Calvin Ridley, who’s actually older, less accomplished and more risky an option than people would like to admit.

Heck, there’s even been pockets of those proclaiming that Bill Belichick is no longer the man for the job(s) in New England! The game has passed him by, like Jonathan Taylor did his most trusted defenders in the December loss to the Colts.

Yup, one disaster of a game against red-hot budding star Josh Allen in frigid Buffalo to cap off one ugly month of football has prematurely pushed the panic button in New England, totally dismissing the team’s overall successful season after an on-the-run offseason rebuild under the direction of Belichick.

Too much talk, too much overthinking, too much negativity!

A dose of rational reality is needed.

And the reality is that just as was the case last April and May, so too is the truth now – the Patriots current lot in NFL life is directly and almost solely tied to Jones.

That’s it. The rest, those are just the debatably devilish details.

If Mac Jones is indeed a franchise quarterback, the guy to take snaps in Gillette Stadium for the next five, 10 or even 15 years, then stability is the story in New England.

As Patriots owner Robert Kraft noted last March when he was declaring that his team needed to get the position “solidified” after a post-Tom Brady year of Cam Newton-led lackluster football, “ the quarterback is the most important position on the team.”

No one would argue that. It’s the reason that teams like the Bucs, Chiefs and Packers start the season as true, proven Super Bowl contenders and almost automatic bids to the postseason. It’s the reason there is suddenly so much hope in once-downtrodden NFL cities like Buffalo and Cincinnati.

If you have the quarterback you have the bulk of a successful football business model.

And there is no question among Jones’ coaches, most vocal teammates and a large portion of fans that the Patriots have their quarterback.

“I think the future is bright for this organization with that young man, not just his play on the field but I think the man that he is, the character that possesses,” Matthew Slater said of Jones in the immediate aftermath of the loss to the Bills. “He’s the type of man that you hope to build around. I’m excited where this organization is going to be in the future with him. To Patriot Nation, they should be excited about having No. 10 as their quarterback.”

As the sign says at the players’ entrance to Gillette Stadium: Ignore the Noise.

Sure, like every NFL team every offseason, there are plenty of questions about the Patriots roster, coaching staff and future in so many areas.

But the only question that matters is Jones. His answer is the Patriots’ answer.

If Jones is as talented and prepared to be the Patriots franchise quarterback moving forward as his promotors suggest, all those other questions are just dirty details.

If he’s not, if Jones’ development is limited by his supposedly limited physical skills, then those other questions won’t really matter, either.

The simple Patriots truth these days, whether you like him or not, is that New England’s future is all about Mac Jones.

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