Patriots fans will be surprised where Matt Cassel ranks Mac Jones among NFL QBs

Patriots fans will be surprised where Cassel ranks Mac Jones among NFL QBs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones had a poor 2022 NFL season, but is the leader of the New England Patriots offense really in the bottom tier of the league's starting quarterbacks?

Not every facet of Jones' struggles last season were his fault. The coaching situation was an absolute mess. Installing Matt Patricia as the de facto offensive coordinator and play-caller was a horrible decision. Joe Judge didn't go a good job as the quarterbacks coach, either. The offensive line battled injuries, too many penalties and lackluster pass protection at times throughout the season. The team also didn't surround Jones with a ton of high-end talent at the skill positions.

But Jones also didn't live up to his end of the bargain.

Ranking NFL's top 32 quarterbacks before 2023 free agency, draft

He did suffer an ankle sprain in Week 3 that sidelined him for a few games, but he was less accurate compared to his rookie campaign and not as prolific down the field. The Patriots often struggled in the red zone, too. Overall, Jones threw for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 games -- not exactly the kind of numbers you want from a starting QB.

It's not easy to figure out where Jones ranks among the league's top quarterbacks. He's probably not as bad as he was in 2022, but what exactly is his ceiling going forward?

Former Patriots quarterback and NBC Sports Boston contributor Matt Cassel recently unveiled his list of the top 32 quarterbacks for The 33rd Team.

Jones came in at No. 25 on Cassel's ranking, just ahead of former Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Check out the full list in the tweet below:

Even the Patriots fans who were critical of Jones last season would probably consider him to be better than the 25th-best quarterback in the league.

One reason for optimism with Jones is the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who the Patriots hired last month. O'Brien has a long history of coaching offense and has enjoyed plenty of success with a whole range of quarterbacks from star players to below average guys. He should bring some much-needed stability and expertise to that position in New England.

What everyone can agree on is that 2023 is a hugely important year for Jones. Another lackluster season would make it fair to question if he has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback for the Patriots.