In Mac We Trust
All things considered, it would be hard to ask for more than Mac Jones has given the Patriots in the first five starts of his career. The highlight? He’s completing over 70 percent of his passes, putting him in rare company as far as rookie quarterbacks go. That kind of completion rate shows Jones is grasping the Patriots offense and where to go with the ball, no easy task considering this is a system that spent 20 years in development and is as complex as any around the league.
Not surprisingly, defenses have blitzed Jones at an excessive rate, but over the last two weeks, he’s improved against pressure. Jones has been blitzed at the third-highest rate in the NFL and through three games he compiled a 76.8 passer rating, but against Tampa Bay and Houston, Jones saw his rating against the blitz improve to 99.5 according to Pro Football Focus. Mac’s quick release and processor should help him continue to make teams pay for sending extra rushers at him.
But Jones’ most impressive work might not necessarily show up in the stat book, as his toughness and ability to deliver with the game on the line is already showing up. Both against the Dolphins and Buccaneers, Jones led late-game drives that unfortunately fell just short of delivering the winning points. But the rookie already has a steely-eyed resolve when it’s late and close, no matter how beaten up he’s gotten over the course of the contest.
The end of game work against the Texans was some of his best yet, delivering a third-down touchdown to Hunter Henry early in the fourth quarter that tied the game. After a defensive stop, Jones would lead the Patriots on a 15-play game-winning drive, with a third-down conversion to Henry being another pressure-packed moment where the rookie delivered a strike. It’s remarkable for this offense to already be ninth in the league on third down.
There’s no question that Jones is just scratching the surface of his potential and his smart decision-making, accuracy and quick delivery are tailor-made to the Patriots offensive approach. The final frontier in his development is producing the kind of explosive downfield plays that will truly open things up for the offense underneath and simply putting more points on the board. Jones is consistently moving the offense and once they improve on a league-worst red zone touchdown rate, the attack should really start to hum.