It is in his eyes – and it is in his body language, New England rookie quarterback (QB) Mac Jones is in charge.
Jones showed uncanny maturity in New England’s pre-season opening 22-13 win over Washington Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
It was noticeable. Jones looked certain moving around players and calling out the plays pre-snap from the pocket. There was just this undeniable feeling of tempo and rhythm to the offensive unit when he was out there. It was the kind of thing that reminded me more of the legend, Tom Brady, rather than some rookie seeing his first action. Jones was also doing it against Washington head coach Ron Rivera, the same Rivera who comes from a very strong defensive background himself. Rivera played linebacker in Chicago’s famous “46” defense back in the 1980’s. Many think Rivera’s defense in Washington this year will be perhaps the best in the league.
Jones ended up going a domestic 13-19 for 87 yards, while sporting a slight smirk on his face at times the cameras captured. He looked like he was having fun out there. Jones’ longest completion of the night was only 13 yards, but again, the thing that stood out the most, was just how comfortable he looked out there.
It did not look like Jones really missed a beat while transitioning from Alabama to New England. Jones did not at all look like he was in awe of Bill Belichick while jogging off the field, and he looked right at home when sitting next to Patriots’ offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels on the bench.
These are all great signs for Patriots’ fans to take away from this pre-season game.
If there was one glaring difference between Jones at Alabama and Jones now in New England, was his timing with his new receivers was slightly off. Jones also missed on a couple deeper throws by inches. However, that too should come in time.
The fact that Jones protected the ball – – he did not fumble or throw an interception – – is the thing Belichick will love the most. With this defense, if Jones can at least prove he can protect the ball as he is learning, there is a very good chance he will be the starter when the season opens. It just felt like it was his team out there the way everyone was responding to him on the Patriots, and not QB Cam Newton’s.
There was no question, Jones looked like an early candidate for rookie of the year in his debut.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.