For the second straight week this preseason, I had to rub my eyes and do a double take, is that Tom Brady in the pocket for the New England Patriots?
No, it is rookie quarterback (QB) Mac Jones.
However, in many ways it looks like Brady – – or like a clone of Brady.
Jones has got that back leg planted deeper in the pocket standing there in the shotgun. He looks heady, smart and very much in control – – just like Brady did. Jones is confidently communicating making hand signals, pointing to his helmet and directing traffic pre-snap, just like Brady did.
Once the ball is snapped, Jones is showing tremendous pocket awareness and poise – – just like Brady did. He is also standing tall in the pocket, sliding up and driving the ball downfield – – yes – – just like Brady did.
For the second straight week Jones is also showing nice accuracy and ball placement and he is protecting the football too, which is making a believer and a big fan out of head coach Bill Belichick (he loves – – and preaches protecting the football). Outside of that one errant pass Jones threw at the onset of the Eagles game (that should have been intercepted), Jones has looked like anything but a rookie.
It is a different team and a different vibe when Jones is in there compared to when QB Cam Newton is in the game. Newton is this flamboyant showman who is on the downside of his career and Jones is this clean-cut up and comer who has a little Joe Namath to him. After working with Belichick and working with and for people who have been extremely close to him at the Patriots, I would not be at all surprised if Belichick does the unthinkable and starts the rookie week one. Jones is where the team is going. Even in the dropped passes, Jones’ ball placement is pretty much spot on – – just like it was at Alabama.
Everyone loved to make excuses and try to say it was Jones’ star receivers at Alabama that made him look “so good,” but I think Jones is showing the world that was not at all the case.
Jones looks like a comfortable veteran QB as a newborn rookie and that has got to be a very frightening thought for the rest of the AFC East.
One long-time scout in the NFL tried to tell me, “eventually Jones would have to try to throw the ball downfield and then we’ll see.” Jones’ deep ball against Philadelphia that got dropped was right on the money down the left sideline. I am not making excuses for Jones as New England was built on “no excuses,” but he can obviously make those throws too.
Jones was my QB2 prior to the draft, I called him a “more polished version of Trevor Lawrence when I was interviewed by Jason McIntyre (Fox Sports) on his podcast. Social media platforms responded by nearly laughing me off the stage.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…the critics will continue to beat on the “it’s just the preseason” drum, but so far Jones is showing the kinds of qualities that put him in the driver’s seat for rookie of the year honors. I know that is crazy to talk like that in August, but is not even close when you compare Jones to what we have seen so far out of the other rookie signal callers thus far.
Jones doesn’t just look good – – he looks great.
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.