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Three storylines to watch for in & after Sunday's Patriots-Jets season finale

Mac's Big Moment finally comes to a close. What does the future hold in Foxboro? PIC: David Silverman

This year's edition of Patriots coverage, Do Your Job, was entitled "Mac's Big Moment." Check for more Patriots blogs.

Just four years ago, Tom Brady played his final game as a member of the New England Patriots. It felt like a monuments shift in the franchise dynamics, and clearly the move shaped the next few years for the franchise. But whatever changes occurred in the 2020 offseason paled in comparison to what we could witness in 2023. Regardless of what goes down, one thing is for sure: we are on the precipice of major changes coming in New England.

Here are three storylines to watch as the Pats go full-steam ahead into the offseason.

Mac Jones' career in New England is more-than-likely over.

It's no secret that Mac Jones has had an abysmal year. Despite a solid start in the first two games against the Eagles and Dolphins, it was a season of atrocities for Jones. In the 8 games he's played since Week 4, he's thrown for 10 interceptions (many at crucial points of the game) and only 5 touchdowns. His 36.6 QBR is at a career low. He was pulled from four separate games in favor of Bailey Zappe, before getting sent to the sideline - presumably for good - after the contest against the Giants on November 26th. Call it what you will - a lack of talent, subpar weapons, or dysfunctional coaching - but it appears the Pats will move on from Jones next year. Who it is, of course, will be determined by a lot of dominos that are yet to fall. But even without stating it, the Pats have surely made it clear that a world without their 2021 first-round draft pick is how they intend to proceed.

Speaking of personnel, it appears nobody's safe.

There are multiple members of the team that might not make it past the free agency period for New England. Notably, multiple of the Pats' most effective offensive producers are scheduled to hit the open market this offseason. Kendrick Bourne's 3-year deal expires, as does Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki, and Ezekiel Elliott. Who can imagine any of them wanting to stay in New England if not for sheer money alone? Potentially the case can be made for Henry based on his consistent offensive production, and a good quarterback that can exploit Bourne's multi-leveled skill as a wide receiver could possibly lure him back. But are any of them really inclined to spend the middle of their careers - some would call it their prime, but there's no way many would - in the mess that has become New England? Key defensive pieces in Jalen Mills, Kyle Dugger, and Josh Uche are also slated to hit the market - the jury is out on what the market for once-dominant cornerback Mills could be, but Uche and Dugger will certainly solicit some phone calls.

Also, Trent Brown - who just two years ago was signed to a two-year, $13 million deal - has been openly discussing another team. Although this behavior is a pattern for him, it shouldn't make it any less frustrating.

Is this the end of the Bill Belichick era?

The billion-dollar question is what the future holds for the lauded head coach Bill Belichick. We've gone through peaks and valleys with Bill over this year - moments of hope (the early weeks of the year), to calling for his head (the middle of the year), to one last silver lining after a Christmas Eve win over Denver. But the rational Patriots fan will now agree: someone else needs to be making personnel decisions. As time has revealed, the Pats' drafts have been atrocious over the better part of the last decade. Now, with Black Monday just days away, what will happen with BB? Will he check his pride at the door and relinquish control of team personnel decisions, or will he be too stubborn and lose his job altogether? Will it be less-aggressive than we all think the situation is, and will he recognize it might be time to leave on his own terms? Or will things stay the same until there's a new QB in town? One thing is for sure - Sunday could very well be the last time we see Belichick on the Pats sideline.


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