New England Patriots: 3 players that exceeded expectations this season

New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots player who exceeded expectations No. 3: Mac Jones

Heading into the season, nobody really knew what to expect from Mac Jones. He beat out the assumed starter, Cam Newton, in training camp despite having never played a snap of football in the NFL yet. The Patriots had a lot of talent on their roster, but with a big question mark on their roster at quarterback, nobody really knew what was in store for this team this season.

Jones proceeded to lead his team all the way to the playoffs in his first season under center, and turned the future prospects of this franchise around in a heartbeat. Where his fellow rookie quarterbacks struggled, Jones excelled. He focused on limiting his mistakes, and operated primarily in the short passing game. It wasn’t pretty at times, but it led to 10 wins and a playoff berth, so obviously something was working.

The final statline for Jones on the season isn’t anything that will jump off the page (352/521, 3801 YDS, 22 TD, 13 INT), but considering it was just his first season in the NFL, you have to be somewhat impressed. He also didn’t exactly have a fantastic cast of wide receivers around him, which is something the front office will hopefully work on fixing this offseason.

Jones seemingly hit the proverbial rookie wall after the team’s bye week in Week 14, but even then he did enough to keep his team in just about every game he played. Even with his late season struggles, he gained a ton experience playing in a close postseason race, and a playoff game in less than ideal conditions. Here’s hoping Jones never has to face another 20+ point deficit at halftime of a playoff game again.

All in all, Jones stepped up in a way most Patriots fans couldn’t have reasonably expected him to in his first season. He won 10 games in his first season, while the five other rookie quarterbacks that played this season combined to win 11. He probably didn’t end the season the way he wanted to, but with a full season under his belt and a lengthy offseason period to get better, it’s safe to expect Jones to improve in his sophomore campaign.