Now that it’s game day, Mac Jones will obviously be the focus of the attention as the rookie tries to lead the Patriots over what should be a tough Miami Dolphins opponent in front of the home crowd at Gillette Stadium later this afternoon.
Jones has won over the vast majority of fans during the course of training camp, being a consistent presence day in and day out while showing signs that he was indeed the right guy after they took him in Round 1 of the NFL Draft back in April. Most felt Cam Newton would start the 2021 campaign, but Jones’ strong performance during training camp set up Newton’s surprise release, setting the stage for the former Alabama standout to get the starting nod to kick off the season.
The rookie overcame what was clearly a crash course during camp, with the coaches hitting him with long stretches where he was asked to do more than anyone who has watched camp over the years has likely seen a quarterback go through. He was tested time and time again, and seemingly impressed the coaching staff enough to earn Bill Belichick’s trust to name him the opening day starter.
That move was surprising, given Belichick’s seemingly loyal stance toward Newton. But given the plethora of talent on both sides of the football, Belichick seems to believe that Jones gives them the best chance to win, and so, here we are.
He definitely faces a tough challenge. In a column yesterday, Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal pointed out that rookie QBs historically haven’t exactly had the best luck when it comes to winning double-digit games over the years, let alone winning a championship.
Daniels points out that no rookie quarterback has ever made it to a Super Bowl, and during the entire history of the league, out of 98 rookie QBs who started 10 games, only eight of them have won 10 or more of those contests.
That means that despite the expectations we might have for him, the odds of Jones leading this club to a potential rematch against Tom Brady in February – regardless of how the first one goes down in Week 4 in Foxboro – seems like a difficult task. Factor in a 17 game regular season and the removal of a bye for the number two seed, and that road feels even a little more daunting.
However, Jones already seems to be an anomaly and he seems to be farther ahead mentally of any young quarterback we’ve seen come through here since Brady. Brady obviously came in during his first full season following his own rookie year and pulled off the impossible, thanks largely due to the fact he was careful with the football, made smart decisions, and didn’t turn it over.
Jones seems to be the same type of player. He’s been able to read defenses and make adjustments at the line, while also hitting guys in stride and allowing them to make plays. Anyone who has followed this team long enough to remember 2001 likely recalls that attribute being a key difference Brady had over then QB Drew Bledsoe, as receivers started making more yards after the catch with Brady throwing them the football.
It should be fun to watch, and Jones definitely checks enough boxes where fans should like their chances given what we’ve seen so far. Now it’s time for the rookie to get the Patriots into the win column, and we’ll find out in a few hours if he can take that important first step during the team’s first match-up of 2021.
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Cam Newton Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New England Patriots Tom Brady