Those of us who think that the New England Patriots would fight for a playoff berth in 2021 are probably wrong, but what seems to be right is that Bill Belichick and company made the right decision by recruiting Mac Jones as their future quarterback.
It may not happen this season, but the Patriots seem to be on the right track to be contenders again in 2022 at the hands of Jones.
Sometimes, you have to look beyond the numbers and appreciate the intangibles to evaluate the performance of a quarterback and Jones, whom the Patriots drafted as the 15th overall pick in the last draft, has shown strong character samples to consider that he is ready. for the challenge.
In the first instance, there is the fact that he occupies the place of what many consider to be the best quarterback in the history of the NFL, at least the most successful, Tom Brady. On several occasions, veteran players have trouble assimilating the context in which they are given a chance, now imagine what a 23-year-old (22 when he was recruited five months earlier) must have felt when he was chosen to fill the position of a legend who won six Super Bowl rings.
If Belichick’s Patriots are characterized by one thing, it is in focusing their players on specific goals and Jones seems to be already adapted to the mantra under which they work in New England: “Do Your Job”.
In practice, as is the case with virtually all rookies, the 2021 season will be one of valuable learning for Jones. The practice of having a rookie quarterback called to be the franchise figure learn from the bench for a year or two seems to be a thing of the past. In the current NFL, the quarterback designated as the future of a franchise must arrive ready to enter the field and show it at any point in his first season.
Belichick seems to take Jones’ development in stride by not forcing him to shoulder the team and instead learn to know and master the rhythm of NFL games, and the young quarterback seems to absorb the lessons quickly.
After assimilating being the quarterback of a team in which Brady played, in the first six weeks of his first year in the NFL, Jones has already faced two scenarios that would make anyone falter: Brady’s return to New England and facing the team that will probably perform better in the current season, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Patriots lost both games, but Jones made good impressions in both.
Lost amid the anticipation for Brady’s return to New England, Jones kept the Patriots in the fight with a solid performance in which he withstood the pressure of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that, while not at the level with the one who won the Super Bowl is still a serious concern for rivals.
In that game, which the Buccaneers won 19-17, Jones threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and suffered an interception, but tied a Patriots mark that belonged to Brady, the most completed passes in a game, after hitting. 19 and led New England to attempt a missed field goal that would have given them the win in the final seconds.
Two weeks later, the Cowboys visited Foxborough with an explosive offense and opportunistic defense that made Jones their victim at a crucial moment in a close game, when Trevon Diggs intercepted him and returned the gift 42 yards to the end zone to put Jones down. Dallas up 26-21 on the board with 2:27 to play.
Suffering a blow of this caliber in the final minutes of a tight matchup is usually the ultimate for most quarterbacks and their teams, be they veterans or rookies, but Jones responded unexpectedly and on the first play of his next attack, the Rookie threw a deep pass to Diggs and other Cowboys defenders and connected with Kendrick Bourne for a 75-yard touchdown reception that gave the Patriots the lead back.
The play is the longest in Jones’ fledgling career, who hadn’t had a pass of more than 40 yards and thus recovered from being the first quarterback in the NFL to suffer an interception returned for a touchdown in the final three minutes of time. regular since 2005.
Dallas tied and won in overtime, but Jones again made a good impression by putting the Patriots in position to win a game in which they were seen by several as sure victims and by a wide margin.
Belichick is not a coach who values moral victories. Those don’t count, but what Belichick should be pleased about is that Jones seems increasingly poised to return the Patriots to the heights they have grown accustomed to for two decades.
It may not happen in 2021, but the Patriots appear to be on track to be contenders again in 2022.