Expectations are high for every first-round draft pick, but the quarterback position still enjoys a special status simply because of how much direct impact it has on winning and losing. Missing on a first-round QB can set a franchise back for years, as multiple organizations have found out throughout the years.
On the flip side, hitting one can be a foundation upon which to build a successful team. Just ask the Buffalo Bills, who struggled to find consistently competent quarterback play for two decades between Jim Kelly’s retirement in 1997 and Josh Allen’s arrival in 2018.
The jury is still out for the New England Patriots’ first-round quarterback, Mac Jones. However, the early results have been encouraging.
The 15th overall selection of this year’s draft won the Patriots’ starting quarterback job in training camp — beating out incumbent and former league MVP Cam Newton — and has started all eight of the club’s regular season games since. The results may not always have been pretty, but Jones has come as advertised and appears to be on his way to becoming the first post-Tom Brady face of the franchise.
Completing 68.1 of his pass attempts for 1,997 yards as well as 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, Jones has led New England to a 4-4 record. No less important, however, is his development: he does not appear to be overwhelmed when going against NFL-caliber opposition and leading one of the most complex offenses in the game.
Unsurprisingly, Patriots fans are therefore pretty happy with the 23-year-old so far.
A look at SB Nation’s latest Reacts survey confirms this. Asked to grade Jones’ performance eight games into his pro career, 93 percent of participants gave him either an “A” or a “B” grade: 36 percent went with the “A” while 58 percent opted to go for a “B.”
There are arguments to be made either way, but it cannot be denied that Jones has played some solid football so far this season. That fact is also not lost on his teammates.
“I’ve been blown away by how consistent he’s been,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty earlier this week. “He’s been able to just be the quarterback on the Patriots. Nothing else, nothing more, nothing less. Just show up, and that’s his job title, day in and day out. As players what’s all we can ask of all of us in the locker room.
“Be the role that has been called for you and perform it at the highest level possible. If we can do that consistently, we’ll be able to string some wins together.”
Fans and teammates are not the only ones praising Jones’ early-season play. He also was voted to the Pro Football Focus Midseason All-Rookie team and was recently named “the best rookie quarterback I have ever seen when it comes to knowing who to throw to, when to throw it, and then how to throw it” by former NFL QB Dan Orlovsky.
Again, Jones has not been perfect by any means — no rookie quarterback is or should be expected to be. However, he has certainly given the Patriots and their fans something they did not immediately have after seeing Tom Brady depart: hope.
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