Lights, Camera, Maction!

New England Patriots QB Mac Jones made his NFL debut yesterday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Patriots are back, and yesterday we saw rookie QB Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones make his NFL debut.

It was the first time an NFL game of consequence at Gillette Stadium had fans since January 4, 2020, over 617 days ago.

Things have changed since then for the Pats, most noticeably at the quarterback position. No more Tom Brady (or Cam Newton for that matter), it’s Mac Jones under center now.

It’s weird seeing a QB out there younger than you, but I must say, I was quite impressed with how Mac did.

Before I begin, lets start with the obvious: the Patriots did not win. That’s always a bummer, but that does not mean there’s not reason for optimism.

Mac’s first possession was shaky, we can all admit that. The Patriots focused on a running attack to start, but Jones went back to pass at the Miami 30 and as the pressure from the Dolphins front got to him, he turned around and I think he thought about tossing it to new Patriots TE Jonnu Smith before ultimately spiking it… in the opposite direction; spike it in that direction, and it’s a live ball that can be returned by the opposition, but Smith landed on it.

Jones made his first career completion on 3rd & 21 to James White for 4 yards, and that was that, as the Patriots had to punt it back to Miami.

Although the Patriots turned the ball over on their next possession, the rest of the game for Jones after that awkward spike went smoothly. You could see he was getting more comfortable and confident as the game went on. He began stretching the field, completing passes to players like Jakobi Meyers, as well as the plethora of new Patriots skill players such as Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry.

With two and half minutes left in the first half, Jones capped off a 7-play, 63-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Agholor, his first career touchdown throw.

Miami tied the game with a FG right before halftime, and then scored a touchdown on the first possession of the second half, making it 17-10.

The next two Patriots possessions only resulted in field goals, but the first one was 14 plays long and lasted 8 minutes and 1 second, while the second one was 14 plays long and lasted 5 minutes and 37 seconds; they were moving the ball down the field effectively.

Jones made solid plays during these two drives, including a few which did not count due to Patriots penalties.

The highlight of the day for Jones had to be this beautiful 26-yard completion to James White on 3rd & 11 with under 6 minutes left in the third quarter:

The Patriots had one more possession in the game after an interception of Tua Tagovailoa, getting the ball at the 50 with 8:07 left in the game.

New England got the ball deep into Miami territory and looked like they were about to pull ahead with around 3 minutes to go, but a Damien Harris fumble at the 9-yard line was recovered by the Dolphins, and Miami was able to secure a 17-16 victory; New England never got the ball back.

On the day Jones was 29-for-39 with 281 passing yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. He had a completion percentage of 74.35%, the highest ever for a rookie QB making their first NFL start, per Boston Sports Info.

He was 9-for-12 with 89 passing yards on third down. He faced constant pressure during the day and still excelled in the face of it.

A loss is a loss, and Mac Jones said he and his teammates need to be better moving forward.

Yet… I find myself happy with this performance.

The team made some pretty rough mistakes, but outside of that spike and a pass that Jakobi Meyers had to tip twice in order to prevent from being intercepted, the rookie QB looked like he belonged out there. He looked like an honest to god decent NFL QB.

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Jones since he was named the starter, and dating back to training camp it appears he’s done everything asked of him by the team. Still, I didn’t want to get overly optimistic. I wanted to see him in real game action, and I certainly did not want to compare him to that guy in Tampa Bay.

After that game yesterday, I can’t deny I’m impressed. I can’t deny finding myself feeling really good when he held the ball in his hands, trusting his decisions a bit more as the game went on. I’ve been telling myself for weeks to expect rookie hiccups as part of the process, and surely there will be some like that spike in the weeks to come, but I was happy with the play I saw today.

It’s a long season, and I think the Patriots boast a good team, but it’ll be one game at a time. Still, I’m not too down after yesterday’s game, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the journey with Jones at QB goes as the season goes on.

I think the Patriots may have found themselves a keeper, and I’m happy about it.

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