The Patriots season comes to an end, and although the end product was an absolute drubbing, the season should be considered a successful season. Damien Harris (929 yards, 15 TD's) continued to show he can be a productive back in the league, while his rookie counterpart Rhamondre Stevenson (606 yards, 5 TD's) showed that they can both be productive and form a two headed monster. Jakobi Meyers proved that he's reliable target once again outperforming an unmentionable first rounder. New additions Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Matthew Judon all performed well for the Patriots throughout the season. Then there is that pesky rookie QB they've got back there.
Mac Jones did have a good rookie season. He showed good poise, he showed he can make the right decisions, and good leadership. However, he did seem to hit a rookie wall and start to really struggle late in the season. The more the Patriots seemed to struggle, the more "analysts" and sports media personalities seemed to jump on Mac Jones for not being very good. In part due to the overwhelming response from the Patriots fan base being excited about their new QB, but to say that Mac Jones had a bad rookie season, stinks, is a bad QB, is just laughable. How does he compare to the other rookie QB's?
Mac Jones, Patriots: 17 starts, 67.8% completion, 3,801 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT (129 yards rushing)
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars: 17 starts, 59.6% completion, 3641 yards, 12 TD, 17 INT (334 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Trey Lance, 49ers: 2 starts/6 played, 57.7% completion, 603 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT (168 yards rushing)
Justin Fields, Bears: 10 starts/12 played, 58.9% completion, 1,870 yards, 7 TD, 10 INT (420 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Zach Wilson, Jets: 13 starts, 55.6% completion, 2,334 yards, 9 TD, 11 INT (185 yards rushing)
Davis Mills, Texans: 11 starts/13 played, 66.8% completion, 2,664 yards, 16 TD, 10 INT (44 yards rushing)
Mac Jones was the best of the rookie QB's. All of the rookie QB's had different circumstances, and to most Patriots fans admissions, Mac Jones landed in the best possible spot with the best possible coaches for Jones to have early success. His team made the postseason without asking him to be Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes and carry a dead carcass into the top tiers of the league. That's where sports media personalities seem to hop onto the hot take train and let loose. Things like "Belichick doesn't trust him," and "Mac Jones is terrible" seemed to spew out of their mouth at will any time the Patriots rookie would play like a...rookie.
Expecting the kid to be Mahomes, Brady, Herbert, Kyler, or any other top tier QB right out of the box is a ridiculous way to look at it. It's why they get paid to make said hot takes. It gets a reaction. But let's dig deeper, how does Mac Jones stack up against other young QB's rookie seasons?
Mac Jones, Patriots: 17 starts, 67.8% completion, 3,801 yards, 22 TD, 13 INT
Kyler Murray, Cardinals: 16 starts, 64.4% completion, 3,722 yards, 20 TD, 10 INT
Joe Burrow, Bengals: 10 starts, 65.3% completion, 2,688 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT
Justin Herbert, Chargers: 15 starts, 66.6% completion, 4,336 yards, 31 TD, 10 INT
Baker Mayfield, Browns: 13 starts/14 played, 63.8% completion, 3,725 yards, 27 TD, 14 INT
Josh Allen, Bills: 11 starts/12 played, 52.8% completion, 2,074 yards, 10 TD, 12 INT
*Allen's 2nd year: 16 starts, 58.8% completion, 3,089 yards, 20 TD, 9 INT
*We'll get back to that
Outside of Justin Herbert, none of the aforementioned names lit the NFL on fire in their first year. Does Mac Jones have the same "ceiling" as any of the names listed? There's no way to know for certain until it happens, it's why it's a useless take by opposing fans and media.
Let's look at the situations, Joe Burrow was hurt in his rookie season, which explains his stats being somewhat limited. But for the 2nd year, the Bengals drafted his college teammate Jamarr Chase, and Burrow exploded onto the scene leading the Bengals to their first playoff win in 31 years.
Kyler Murray had no number one receiver in his rookie season, similar to Mac Jones this year. The Cardinals jumped at the chance when Bill O'Brien held a fire sale and traded DeAndre Hopkins to them, securing Kyler a legitimate weapon in a top 5 WR in the NFL. That was followed up by Kyler improving in yards, completion percentage, TD's, and rating.
Buffalo's love child Josh Allen was abysmal in his first year, and as his second season shows, he did okay but nothing spectacular with the supporting cast of John Brown as his number 1 WR. Brown had 1,000 yards receiving, but has since been on 4 teams in 2021 alone. So what caused Josh Allen to suddenly emerge as a promising QB? Before the 2020 season, the Bills acquired Stefon Diggs, giving Josh Allen a real number 1 WR. For what it's worth, Justin Herbert has had Keenan Allen since he came into the league.
Is there a chance that all Mac really needs is a true number 1? It's entirely possible. He played at NFL Pipeline University. In college Mac was throwing to a bunch of first rounders, premium talent. Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne had good seasons, but they're not number 1 options. Nelson Agholor works best when there's other players consistently distracting the opposing defenses. So would the Patriots go for someone like Calvin Ridley should he come available? They should. Will they? Who knows. Will the Patriots be in position to draft someone who can be a number 1 guy? There's a couple of Bama teammates waiting in the draft (Jameson Williams, John Metchie III), the two kids from OhIo State (Chris Olave, Garett Wilson), even a speed threat like Jahan Dotson from Penn State could add a new dynamic to the offense. With the Patriots projected with a draft pick in the early 20's, they could be sitting pretty if they feel the need to grab one in the early rounds.
Make no mistake, the roster was built to make the playoffs. But it wasn't built to do anything in the playoffs. In that regard, the season is a success. The rebuild wasn't complete, there's plenty of things to work on. The Patriots have some extra time to figure out all of that and come back stronger next year. The rookie will no longer be a rookie, we're on to 2022.