The NFL season is almost here and the clearest sign of that is that preseason football is officially underway for all 32 teams this weekend. However, as the New England Patriots usually do, they got started Thursday night.
The Patriots faced off with the Ron Rivera-led Washington Football Team and didn’t hold too many players out of action besides veterans like Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore. This allowed fans to get a sense of all the new additions, but more importantly the 15th overall selection, quarterback Mac Jones.
Mac Jones had his first NFL game experience Thursday and looks to be what the New England Patriots were hoping for.
Jones entered into the game for presumed starter Cam Newton towards the end of the first quarter. From there, he showed signs as to why he more than any other quarterback in the draft fit the system of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. Everything he did was good and while his stats won’t jump off the page, it’s the throws that he missed that may have been the most impressive.
Jones went 13/19, mostly with the second receiving corps as the likes of Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Jonnu Smith were removed from the game by this time. His decisions were often quick and the release of the ball was always fast as well. Jones showed some veteran-like decision-making as he often took what the defense was giving him with simple dump-offs to the running back rather than forcing it down the field and making a bad play.
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The rookie passer finished with only 87 yards on the night but could have had a lot more on his deep balls. There were two attempts by Jones that saw him air it out.
The first came on a long throw into the endzone as the pass was reminiscent of Russell Wilson’s deep ball in the sense that it “dropped in the bucket.” Unfortunately for Jones, Kristian Wilkerson dropped it in the endzone despite it being perfectly placed.
The second deep ball of the game from Jones was when he just missed an open Gunner Olszewski down the middle of the field by a step.
The rookie QB was visibly upset about that one. These are all growing pains but seeing how good he looked in action, this was a major plus for Jones moving forward.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss tweeted out a notable statistic and it was that between Jones and Newton, the average pass length for Jones was 7.2 yards while Newton’s was 0.3. It’s clear that Jones is more willing to make the risky throws and that could be what sets him up to start sooner than later this season.
It will be intriguing to watch the remainder of the reason for Jones alone as one can only hope that he continues to build off this foundation he created here. When he is able to work with the starters in-game action, we are certain to see an even better performance. Until then, this was a great start for the Alabama-product who showed that the selection was worth it in his first outing.