Coming off a disappointing 2020 season, expectations for the New England Patriots offense were low. While Cam Newton was about to enter his second year in the system after a bad Year 1, Mac Jones was a rookie with just one year of starting experience under his belt.
Safe to say the group exceeded expectations in 2021. In fact, it was named as the NFL’s biggest overperformer of the 2021 season. According to NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund no other group played better football when compared to preseason predictions.
New England Patriots
Preseason win-share ranking: 26th. Final ranking: 15th.
There was plenty of uncertainty around the QB position back when the Patriots decided to install a rookie starter, prompting the release of veteran Cam Newton. But Mac Jones — who took all but 14 pass attempts for the team this season — far exceeded the preseason ranking given to this unit. The 15th overall selection in last April’s draft (and the fifth QB chosen in Round 1) not only fared as the best rookie passer this season, but he also ranked in the top five in the NFL in several metrics, driving his value of 15th to finish the season.
Per Next Gen Stats, Jones had a 71.4 completion percentage against two-safety shells, second in the league behind Kyler Murray’s 72.8. On quick passes, he had a 77.4 completion percentage, ranking fifth, and his 74.4 completion percentage on play-action was second only to Jimmy Garoppolo (75.4%).
Even though Mac Jones had some ups and downs during his first year in the league, the Alabama product adapted well to playing in the Patriots’ notoriously challenging system. It remains to be seen how he will develop — especially given that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left for Las Vegas — but the early signs have been promising.