Toucher & Hardy

Toucher & Hardy

After a rough Week 4 road loss to the Cowboys, the New England Patriots were ready to bounce back as they faced the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon…Or so they thought. Their hopes were dashed as the Patriots had a disastrous game, losing 34-0, and their 2023 season record fell to 1-4.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 08: Carl Granderson #96 of the New Orleans Saints sacks Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 08: Carl Granderson #96 of the New Orleans Saints sacks Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Mac Jones had a tough start as Tyrann Mathieu intercepted him and returned for a pick-six, giving the Saints an early 7-0 lead. Despite their efforts to recover, the Patriots missed a crucial field goal, allowing the Saints to extend their lead with more touchdowns. The Patriots never gained control of the game.

In the third quarter, the Patriots’ offense turned the ball over once again due to a significant fumble by Ty Montgomery. Seizing this opportunity, the Saints scored another touchdown, widening their lead to 31-0. Subsequently, with the game slipping out of reach, the Patriots made a quarterback change, replacing Jones with Bailey Zappe. Unfortunately, their offensive struggles persisted, and the situation did not improve.

Bill

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 08: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Ultimately, the New England Patriots were shut out at home by the New Orleans Saints with a final score of 34-0, landing them at the bottom of the AFC East with a 1-4 record. Jones had a tough outing, completing 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards and two interceptions during the game. Notably, it marked the first time in Bill Belichick‘s coaching career, including his time with Cleveland, that he trailed by 30 points at home.

With their 1-4 record, the Patriots now face critical decisions, including evaluating Mac Jones and whether he is the right guy. They may also consider potential quarterback options for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Here is a list of college quarterbacks who could potentially replace Mac Jones in 2024:

  • Caleb Williams (USC)

    Williams

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS – JANUARY 02: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws a touchdown pass against the Tulane Green Wave in the second quarter of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 02, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    Caleb Williams, from the University of California, hasn’t declared whether he’s leaving school yet. Word has it that he’s waiting to see who will have the first pick. If he doesn’t like the destination, he might return to USC. The Patriots would also need the first pick to select Caleb Williams, but the chances of them acquiring him are slim. Williams excels as a quarterback in all areas; he has a great deep ball and accuracy. He moves well and can make plays with both his arm and feet outside the pocket. He has the potential to become the next great quarterback in the league. Five games into the season, Williams has thrown 21 passing touchdowns and only 1 interception. He has also scored three rushing touchdowns this season. In his college career, which began at Oklahoma, Williams has thrown for 8,242 yards, 84 touchdowns, and a limited number of interceptions.

  • Drake Maye (UNC)

    Maye

    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 03: Drake Maye #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels gets called for a facemask penalty against Trenton Simpson #22 of the Clemson Tigers in the second quarter during the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

    At 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, Maye possesses the size that NFL teams covet. Originally committed to Alabama, he ended up at North Carolina due to a logjam at the quarterback position. Through four games, Maye has thrown five touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also scored three rushing touchdowns. While his stats may not be eye-popping at the moment, Maye possesses all the tools to excel at the pro level. His impressive numbers from last year suggest that he could be a great player. In 2022, Maye threw 38 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions and rushed for 653 yards. Maye is projected to be a top 5 pick in the 2024 draft, and he could go first if Caleb Williams doesn’t declare.

  • JJ McCarthy (Michigan)

    McCarthy

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 31: J.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after rushing for a touchdown during the third quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The junior QB from Michigan hasn’t faced much competition this season. McCarthy, standing at 6-foot-3, is a mobile quarterback. After a successful 2022 season, he has thrown 10 touchdowns for over 1,000 yards this season. However, he did throw 3 costly interceptions against Bowling Green. He will face tough tests near the end of the season against Penn State and Ohio State.

  • Quinn Ewers (Texas)

    Ewers

    AUSTIN, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 30: Quinn Ewers #3 of the Texas Longhorns throws a pass in the third quarter against the Kansas Jayhawks at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

    Ewers is having a better season this year, with 10 touchdowns already compared to 15 in 2022. At only 20 years old, he has plenty of room for growth. With the Manning legacy behind him, he may choose to enter the draft this season.

  • Riley Leonard (Duke)

    Leonard

    CHESTNUT HILL, MA – NOVEMBER 04: Riley Leonard #13 of the Duke Blue Devils throws during the first half of a game against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium on November 4, 2022 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

    Duke gained attention by beating Clemson in the first game of the year. With two seasons under his belt, Leonard hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheet, but he possesses the size NFL teams like at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds. He recently suffered an ankle sprain against Notre Dame and could be out for a month or more. Despite his size, he moves well.

  • Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)

    Penix

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – NOVEMBER 19: Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies passes during the second quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Husky Stadium on November 19, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    Penix is an older player at 23 years old, with six college seasons under his belt. He was the MVP of the Alamo Bowl in 2022. In 2023, Penix has thrown for 1,999 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he doesn’t turn the ball over much. While it’s uncertain what his ceiling will be at the next level, he appears ready for the NFL.
    Shedeur Sanders: Colorado made headlines after beating TCU, and Sanders is known for his strong deep ball and ability to stay composed in the pocket under pressure. It’s unclear whether Sanders will stay another year or declare for the draft, but his name is expected to generate a lot of buzz around draft time.

  • Jaxson Dart (Mississippi)

    Dart

    OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI – OCTOBER 07: Jaxson Dart #2 of the Mississippi Rebels carries the ball during the first half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on October 07, 2023 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

    Dart is a 20-year-old junior. Alabama was able to hold him to zero touchdowns and one interception, but he bounced back against LSU, throwing for 389 yards and 4 scores. Dart stands at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and is a strong runner, with 4 rushing touchdowns in the last 3 games. He is someone to watch in the SEC as the season progresses.

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