The New England Patriots’ Mac Jones is looking like the best of the bunch when it comes to NFL rookie quarterbacks this season. No.1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence is only now showing signs of living up to his potential and he certainly hasn’t impacted Jacksonville’s fortunes.
While the Pats, 2-4, aren’t all that better off than the Jaguars, Jones has the looks of the most impressive young QB in the league. The former Alabama star has shown remarkable poise in his first handful of games for New England and some would dare say his calmness with the ball in hand is reminiscent of a certain Tom Brady.
The Patriots definitely had the football world shocked when they cut Cam Newton and handed Jones the reins. Having come in as the first first-round pick the Patriots have drafted with Bill Belichick in charge, the 23-year-old is understood to have shown maturity and intelligence when it came to the playbook and offense, so much so that Belichick opted to go with him from the very start.
Jones’ maturity has shown on the field too and, while there are still some issues to work out, he has shown he can be counted on.
To be fair to the Pats, though, they’ve put Jones in the perfect position to be successful. During the Brady era, the offense would work on getting the ball in the middle of the field, with tight ends slipping through holes in the defense, particularly centrally. This has changed this season, with Belichick beefing up the offense and adding tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
This has made it so that Jones doesn’t have to focus downfield and can instead play short tight passes. According to PFF, Jones is the No.34-ranked quarterback in the league at 7.7 yards per target, marking the lowest number for any rookie QB. He has thrived in short and intermediate routes. PFF has given him a grade of 81.7 as a short thrower and 82.1 as a medium passer. He has thrown 124 passes within 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage so far this season.
The rookie has made 19 attempts at long passes and is 19th in the NFL on that front, with PFF giving him a grade of 51.0. He ranks 41st among 46 passers who dropped back to make throws this season.
Jones is going about his business with little flair, doing exactly what is required of him. Of course, there’s still a lot to work on and he isn’t quite the Brady mold just yet but the Pats are trying to make sure they will have another franchise superstar in the next few seasons and are playing to his strengths. The NFL predictions don’t favor the Pats for much success right now but, with a new offense and a very promising QB in their ranks, they could get back to the glory years sooner rather than later.
Jones is already earning the respect of his peers, particularly Kendrick Bourne. The receiver has played with a number of QBs during his five-year stint in the NFL so he knows a thing or two about good passes.
He rates Jones’ passing very highly, claiming catching a pass from the rookie is like catching a pillow.
“The velocity part is just – Mac, he’s throwing it hard, but when you catch it, it’s like a pillow,” Bourne told 98.5 The Hub(H/T NBC Sports).
The receiver explained that Jimmy Garopollo, whom he played with for four years in San Francisco, throws a pass that hits harder.
“I can definitely say that. He’s special, man. Jimmy’s got a rifle and it comes in harder,” he continued. “That’s the difference I would say about the two. Timing-wise, I wouldn’t say they’re that different. They’re both pretty solid. It’s all about the pocket and pressure and stuff like that. Velocity is just the most difference between them, that’s what I would say.
“Mac, man, I’m really blessed to be in a situation with him, starting this new era of New England football. It’s the same, but with new players. I’m happy to be a part of it. We’re showing a lot of flashes. I’m appreciative of that, and it just shows we got potential. If you’ve got potential, you know the ceiling is high. That play was just amazing, too. It’s just crazy how it’s playing out. The future is really bright, as well all can see.”
The Patriots will hope Jones’ form will start translating into multiple wins soon enough. They are set to play the 1-4 New York Jets on Sunday and are likely to get things rolling in that direction by then.