I was not a Mac Jones fan as a prospect. He ended up as the QB5 on my Big Board and the 34th player overall, so I was obviously much lower on him than the NFL was. Between playing with high end offensive talent at Alabama to throwing 34.1% of his passes behind the line of scrimmage, I was skeptical. Then, he was drafted by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
Everyone saw the ideal fit in an offense that had been led by Tom Brady for two decades. Plug in Jones who is a dumpy, accurate, unexciting passer with the intelligence to make good decisions and boom. The Patriots are right back to being the run based, but efficient offense we saw early in Brady’s career. With an improving defense, multiple capable RBs and a tough offensive line, Jones just has to be accurate and protect the ball. He seems to be improving in this area as the season goes on. Let’s compare with how Belichick started out with Tom Brady:
Brady’s first 11 games as a starter: 212/320 (66.25%), 2,254 yards for 16 TDs and 9 INTs
Jones’ first 11 games as a starter: 245/349 (70.2%) 2,540 yards for 14 TDs and 8 INTs
These seem pretty comparable to me. The NFL is a much different place in 2021 than 2001, and Brady was a lot more streaky than Jones has been both in terms of attempts, interceptions, and touchdowns, but Jones is getting the same treatment. The benefits to QB passing 20 years later likely accounts for more yardage and the higher passing percentage as well.
Jones won’t be the greatest QB of all-time, that isn’t my thesis here, but being in a consistent offense that continues expanding the playbook and young QBs responsibilities seems to make that development into a good starter possible.
Brady also had the benefit of playing with Pro Bowler Troy Brown as his primary WR that year. Jones weapon with the best shot at the Pro Bowl might be Tight End Hunter Henry. On the flip side, none of the Patriots WRs are NFL starters. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne have not met their pricetag, and while Jakobi Meyers is solid, he shouldn’t be anyone’s #1 WR. Getting a true top receiving option would do far.
The consistency and experience of Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should provide ample opportunity for Mac Jones to grow and develop into the main weapon for this offense down the line. He won’t be Brady, not even close, but perhaps Jones can turn in a Matt Ryan type career of elevating the team around him as a leader for a nice, long career.