I don't think we have any real idea how good Mac is or isn't. He hasn't shown that he's The Guy, but I don't think he's shown that he's not. I mean, Josh Allen definitely wasn't after his first two years. Mac showed as much as a rookie as pretty much any rookie has. He slumped at the end of the year, which is pretty typical for a couple reasons: 1) rookie wall, and 2) the league gets tape on him in the system and starts to be able to adjust.
I do know that the situation last year forced Mac to play with his greatest weapon - his brain and processing speed - tied behind his back. Further, with the desperation of the situation he allowed himself to be pressured into trying to play hero ball. Even if you ignore the actual shortcomings of the scheme, and the failure to use things like motion and play action to let Mac diagnose and cook, just the operational problems were a massive handicap. The garbage gameday operations meant that the play was rarely into Mac before the play clock hit 15, or even 10. That limits his ability to make presnap reads, allows the D to tee off and time the snap, and causes huge time constraints (and potential miscommunications) on any audibles/alerts.
Bill O'Brien should be a good hire. He's been successful (relative to circumstance) everywhere he's been:
- He absolutely gifted Matt Cassell his contract with the Chefs, and made that offense hum pretty well even without Brady...and without being able to plan around not having Brady like for the first 4 games of the suspension year.
- He navigated the aging and departure of Moss, and ran the top offense in the NFL with Walker as WR1 and no one behind him except the mummified corpse of Deion Branch. He used what he had available, whether it be Moss/Walker and an eclectic hodgepodge of RBs, or Gronk/Welker/Hernandez.
- Penn State's football program would probably still be in shambles if he hadn't taken on nearly an impossible situation.
- He brought a very mediocre Texans team to the playoffs and made them a tough out.
- His offenses at Alabama we're strong, and kept the team in games even when the vaunted defense was letting them down.
I have no reason to expect to be disappointed by the O'Brien hire. I'm not over the moon, but the hire has a very high floor. Given the emerging young talent, we have every reason to be optimistic...except the absolute gauntlet that the AFC has become, and will likely add Rodgers to the Jets.