Mac Jones had the best season of all rookie quarterbacks and made it into the play-offs with the New England Patriots. But just before the game against the Buffalo Bills, the first question marks come up.
Much reminds of the young Tom Brady: Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.
On the one hand the expertises were wrong, on the other hand they were correct somewhere. Before the NFL draft last April, Mac Jones was rated by the NFL draft analysts mostly as fifth-best, sometimes only sixth-best quarterback in the class, and sometimes he did not even receive a first-round grade.
After the first season was over, the narrative turned. While the four playmakers chosen before him Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars, Pick 1), Zach Wilson (Jets, Pick 2), Trey Lance (49ers, Pick 3) and Justin Fields (Bears, Pick 11) either disappointed or only played at times at all, Jones (Pick 15) led the weak New England Patriots back into the play-offs last year after a dominant era. There the NFL newcomer will meet the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night (2.15 a.m. CET).
The parallels to Brady are obvious
And yet the Jones’ pre-judgments weren’t entirely wrong.
Because it was often read that Jones – next to the ultimately hard hit child prodigy Lawrence – was most “NFL-ready”, thanks to his understanding of the game and his working conditions at the top Alabama college, with which he was the national one almost exactly a year ago Championship won. In the final against Ohio State, led by Justin Fields, Jones threw five touchdown passes.
Why was it still drawn later in the draft? It’s the athletic limitations that Jones brought with him compared to his competitors. He was said to be too slow, too immobile, maybe even a little too overweight. The parallels to the opinions of a quarterback, who had also been drawn behind other, more athletic playmakers in the 2000 draft, could hardly be overlooked. His name: Tom Brady (sixth round only in 199th place).
Belichick ennobles Jones: “One of our most consistent players”
So it fits only too well that “Baby-Brady” is now playing for the New England Patriots and has become its successor with a year delay. Handy for head coach Bill Belichick, who didn’t have to make major adjustments to his Brady system. “He’s very consistent, from day to day, from week to week,” said the iconic coach last about his playmaker. “In fact, I think he’s one of our most consistent players.” And if Belichick likes something, it’s constancy.
Above all, Jones benefits conversely from Belichick. Unlike Lawrence or Fields, for whom coaching did more harm than help in their first year, Jones was able to play in a structure created for his type of quarterback game and also win games without having to play the hero.
Listen now! The first episode “Icing the kicker” with previews of all wildcard games
January 13, 202201:14:10 hours
# 1: Wild Card Weekend lucky bag
Curtain up for the new NFL podcast “Icing the kicker” in cooperation between the kicker and the footballerei. In episode 1 we look at the wild card duels at the start of the play-offs in the NFL. Detti, Max, Mario and Kucze look ahead to the six knockout duels of the weekend. Pack individual matchups in categories, look at the most important key positions as well as X-factors and at the end give your tip for the result. The next episode of “Icing the kicker” – this time via the Divisional Round in the NFL – will be out next Thursday. Photo Credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire
Icing the kicker
The best example: The wind-blown division duel in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills at the beginning of December was won by the Patriots, although Jones had only thrown three (!) Passes in the entire game. It is precisely against these bills that the young playmaker will play his first play-off game – presumably without such extreme weather conditions. An extremely unpleasant task: Buffalo provides one of the best defenses in the league, at the second meeting in the regular season Jones threw two interceptions on Boxing Day, showed his weakest performance of the season.
Is Jones doing like Wilson did?
In general, the 23-year-old’s performance curve – quite atypical for a rookie – has flattened recently after a strong middle third of the season. So at the worst possible time. And then there would be these statistics, which should give the Patriots little hope. The last play-off victory of a rookie quarterback was nine years ago – at that time Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks.
The task is therefore big for the 1.93 meter long playmaker, especially since the hunger of the success-spoiled Patriots fans for a return to old strength is great. Despite similar facilities, fans will hardly be able to wait for Jones to become a second Tom Brady. For now, a second Russell Wilson should be enough for them.