As out of character it is for Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick to start a rookie at quarterback (QB), I believe he is going to do the unthinkable and give the nod to Mac Jones.
I do not believe in “fitting any narratives,” and I believe in representing a player’s full body of work as best possible when evaluating. It is for that reason, I am including video of all of Jones’ plays from his last preseason game against the Giants. Yes, he is not perfect, and there are always things to work on, but he is pretty darn good looking – – scary good looking – – possible Rookie of the Year looking. Outside of the obvious (10/14, 156 yards, 1 TD) I was stuck once again by just how comfortable Jones looks out there.
There are ten additional reasons outside of stats and him looking the best out of all the QB’s in his draft class. It takes a lot more than that for Belichick to hand the reigns to any QB, let alone a rookie.
This entire preseason from the first snap against Washington, to the final one against the Giants, Jones has been rock solid consistent completing 36/52 (69%) 389 yards and one touchdown.
2) Protecting the football
If Belichick were a preacher on Sunday’s, this would be his pervasive message. PROTECT THE FOOTBALL! Jones has zero interceptions and zero fumbles in the pocket. Granted, he may be taking too many sacks, which was a flaw of his also at Alabama – – but he is protecting the football and he can be depended on to do so by this coaching staff. This is huge.
It jumped off the screen from the first moment of the Washington game, Jones was directing traffic and calling the signals while standing tall in the pocket pre-snap. Jones is communicating he knows exactly what is going on with a lot of clarity and confidence. It is written all over his body language.
4) Looks like a veteran as a rookie
Jones is as green as rookies come, given the fact he is new to the team, however I have not yet seen anything from this guy the entire preseason that reminds me of a rookie. Jones has shown phenomenal poise and swagger so far, even cracking a little grin at times.
5) Mechanics are on point
Watching Jones work in the pocket looks super smooth, as does his convincing play action fake. He shows the ability to drop back and climb up the pocket naturally and fire downfield.
6) Shown the ability to make all the throws
He is showing the consistent ability to work all the route levels, short, medium and he can go deep. Jones does not look limited whatsoever and he is showing he has command over the entire field.
7) Putting drives together
This is a big one and this is something Jacksonville’s QB Trevor Lawrence struggled with greatly in 2/3 of his preseason games. According to a Tweet by Warren Sharp, Jones put together the following drives (that resulted in points):
8) Teammates responding
The leadership Jones has shown for being a rookie is astonishing. He has gone from being at Alabama and playing for head coach Nick Saban, to going to play for the Patriots and Belichick and he has not looked like he has missed a beat. Jones has not remotely looked intimated or even flinched being around his new legendary head coach or long time well-known offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniel. If anything, Jones has looked like it is as natural as breathing for him being in New England and his teammates have really taken to him.
Jones is bouncing back like a basketball, when he gets sacked or a pass is dropped by a receiver. He gets right back to throwing and does not seem phased by any setbacks.
The Patriots wrapped up a perfect 3-0 preseason. People may say the preseason is meaningless, but nothing, and I mean nothing is meaningless to Belichick, especially winning.
Those are just ten things off the top of my head as to why Belichick will hand the ball to Jones in week one the 2021 NFL regular season, with the understanding that he is on a very short leash with veteran Cam Newton on stand-by.
When I worked on staff on the Jets, I had the opportunity to sit in some of Belichick’s defensive meetings and one thing was super clear, no rookie, no matter how talented, would ever be seeing the field unless he understood his assignments and he could carry them out.
Jones is doing both, and it is for this reason, I believe Jones has therefore earned Belichick’s respect and the right to start – – and he will be named.
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.