Since we’ve already discussed the argument for starting Cam Newton elsewhere, it’s time to examine the reasons why starting Mac Jones makes sense for the Patriots. But first, a caveat. Even if Mac doesn’t start this year, that could also be a good thing for his development as a top-tier NFL quarterback. Just look at Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers: they combine for 1 whole NFL start in their rookie seasons. Having a QB sit behind an established starter for their initial season can be hugely beneficial.
But that’s not what we’re necessarily here to discuss. Let’s take a look at the reasons Mac Jones could have success as the starting QB this season.
Josh McDaniels has spent a lot of time designing an offense for (with?) a certain quarterback by the name of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Junior. That offense was predicated on a decisive decision-maker who could quickly read a defense and put the ball into tight windows with precision. This isn’t necessarily Cam Newton’s skillset, however Mac has flashed these traits in his preseason work. Having a player that fits the mold might be more productive overall to this offense than trying to shoehorn or rebuild the offense to fit the playing style of Newton.
The Accompanying Cast
If a team is unsure about their quarterback, what’s the best way to mitigate the damage? Create a strong defense and running game: just ask the 2000 Ravens, the 2013 Seahawks, or… the 2001 Patriots. As long as you can build the offense around a quarterback who makes few mistakes, you have a chance to win games in the NFL.
Does Mac Jones take care of the football? It’s hard to tell this early, but let’s look at his college numbers:
In his last college season he threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns… to only 4 interceptions. This sounds like someone who knows how to protect the football and make good decisions.
The NFL is made for QBs
Back in the day it was common to sit a drafted quarterback to let them learn the ropes and get up to “NFL Speed” for at least a year before giving them the reins of the offense. However, in the current NFL the game has changed to allow for rookies to step in from the beginning and have success. Let’s take a look at some rookies from the last few years.
- Justin Herbert (2020)
- Kyler Murray (2019)
- Baker Mayfield (2018)
- Deshaun Watson (2017)
- Dak Prescott (2016)
All of these QBs started pretty much from the beginning, and all made an impact from the get-go. Just watch these highlights of Herbert going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady this past season:
Baker Mayfield set the rookie record for TD passes in a season after taking over from Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland. Deshaun Watson lit the league on fire until his injury derailed his rookie season.
There is a caveat to these players, though. Of the 5 QBs I listed above, only one was on a team with a winning record: Dak Prescott.
- Justin Herbert: 7-9
- Kyler Murray: 5-10-1
- Baker Mayfield: 6-7
- Deshaun Watson: 4-12
- Dak Prescott: 13-3
Which brings us back to the first 2 points. Dak was in a similar situation (with the exception of being a late-round draft pick). The Cowboys were gearing up for a Super Bowl run with Tony Romo at the helm, and had put a lot of pieces together to do so. When Romo was injured in the preseason, Dak was able to step in and lead Dallas to a 13-3 record thanks to an incredible running game behind an all-star offensive line and Zeke Elliott. The defense ranked 5th in points allowed and 14th in yards allowed that year, providing a perfect compliment to the run-heavy offense.
Am I saying that starting Mac Jones will result in a double-digit win total similar to the 2016 Cowboys? Not necessarily. Am I saying it won’t happen? Absolutely not. But if Mac Jones earns the trust of the Patriots coaching staff to lead this team, it’s not hard to foresee good things happening.