Mac Jones is playing like a veteran for the New England Patriots

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots sensational young quarterback, Mac Jones, is almost a veteran now after playing just 13 games in his first season out of Alabama. How’s that?

This contradiction in terms exists even though the precocious young quarterback is still playing in his first season in the NFL.

He’s now played in and started 13 straight games. Let’s explore why he’ll shortly break through that rookie moniker and assume full-fledged NFL quarterback status which arguably, he already has.

How Mac Jones has progressed during his first season with the New England Patriots

Jones’ progression has been rapid in his first season. Head coach Bill Belichick used to say that after a full season, the so-called “rookies” aren’t rookies anymore.

What Belichick said is true. After a full preseason slate of games, when a rookie plays in 16 regular-season games, even the tough Belichick feels that rookies transform into seasoned veterans.

Mac Jones is headed to that threshold in three more games. In four (of course, the season is 17 games for the first time ever in the regular season), he’ll be even more seasoned.

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Belichick’s logic is clear. After you’ve played in 16 or 17 games, you’ve basically seen all there to see in the NFL, at least in one season. Thus, de facto, you’re not a rookie anymore.

You’ve played a whole season worth of games in the NFL. You are basically a veteran at that point in experience even if you haven’t finished up your first season completely.

You may still carry a veteran’s helmet or other “rookie” chores veterans ask first-year players to do, but the fact is you are now a full-fledged NFL player at the point you hit 16 or 17 games.

Mac Jones will soon be a veteran on the New England Patriots

If Belichick feels that veteran status is achieved after that many games, there won’t be any argument here. Jones has been so good that he may have been a veteran the first time he stepped on an NFL field.

He was coached in an NFL player factory at Alabama under legendary college coach, Nick Saban. He came prepared. Though he only played one full season and a part of another there, he shined. Jones completed an otherworldly 77.4 percent of his passes and led the Crimson Tide to the FBS Championship.

Jones surprisingly beat out a favorite in this space and a former NFL MVP, Cam Newton, for the top quarterback job, and Newton went elsewhere. That’s another veteran-like notch in his belt.

When the NFL season began in earnest, he had a few growing pains in the first six weeks but nonetheless a stellar beginning, completing more than 70 percent of his passes from the outset.

Now, 13 games into the season, he’ll head into Week 15 after the New England Patriots bye week against the very good Indianapolis Colts. In Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he’ll officially, in Belichick-speak, be a veteran for certain.

Jones will have played that magical 16 games and the week after he’ll travel to Miami, that cesspool for previous Patriots teams, and hopefully best the Miami Dolphins before possibly heading into the NFL playoffs.

There’s a lot to do before then. That game in Indianapolis will be followed by a rematch against the always tough Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, another home game against Jacksonville, and then the Miami game away.

After the Week 17 game against Jacksonville, Jones will be a true Belichick veteran at that point, taking his 70 plus completion percentage and hopefully 11 or 12 wins into the finale against the ‘Phins.

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We’ll see. But it’s clear that Mac Jones, with his 16 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions thus far, will be even better by that Week 17 game.

Hopefully, he’ll be guiding the red, white, blue, and silver into a bye week before playing in the divisional round of the playoffs. That would be sweet.

Will it happen? Who knows. That’s why they play the games. Yet, it’s looking petty darn good so far.