It's hard to know what to make of the New England Patriots in 2023. The most dominant franchise in the history of the NFL has had more ups and downs over the last five seasons than a roller coaster. The peaks and valleys have been both expected and unexpected at times. The inconsistency though, has people wondering whether this is a 12- 5 team or a 5-12 team.
One thing for sure is that if the team is going to succeed this season, certain individuals carry more of that burden than others. The week 1 matchup against the defending NFC champs is where that pressure begins. These are the top three people in the Patriots organization with the most pressure on them to perform against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Patriots who need to step up in Week 1: 3. Mac Jones, Quarterback
I'm starting here because it's the easiest and most blatantly obvious choice. Mac Jones had one of the best rookie seasons in the history of the quarterback position. He completed roughly 68 percent of his passes for 3800 yards and 22 touchdowns, leading the New England Patriots to a 10- 7 record and a playoff birth. He was the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year and had fans calling him the next Tom Brady.
Saying he regressed in 2022 would be a gigantic understatement. Jones fell off the cliff that Max Kellerman thought Brady would tumble off of, landing face-first at the bottom. Right from the jump he had no semblance of a pocket presence, consistently lobbing balls off his back foot into the opposing team's secondary. His play was so rancid, that a fourth-round rookie quarterback was the biggest breath of fresh air in the stadium. Fans gave a standing ovation for Zappe when he relieved Jones against the Chicago Bears.
While some of the blame falls on the playcalling, much of it still falls on the quarterback himself. Nobody was making him force bad throws into tight spaces. And now he has a new offensive coordinator and new offensive weapons. All of the excuses have been taken away, and his public relations team has pumped him up to ridiculous heights during the off-season. If Mac Jones has a bad season in 2023, it will be his last season with the New England Patriots. He needs to get off to a great start against the Eagles.