When the New England Patriots selected Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft, many thought it was a great fit. Getting a quarterback from a program that is essentially the college equivalent of the Patriots just made sense. Most scouts and analysts had touted Jones as the most pro-ready draft prospect. It was the very reason why some had him projected to go as high as 3rd overall in the draft.
Even still, not many people believed Mac Jones could or would win ROY (Rookie of the Year). If you had asked most people in the industry, Jones would not have been near the top of their lists. Universally, most had Trevor Lawrence or even a Justin Fields at the top of their lists.
It’s understandable. Lawrence was supposed to be a generational prospect. The next Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. Fields and Trey Lance were far more athletically gifted compared to Jones. Scouts probably had non-quarterbacks like RB Najee Harris and WR Ja’Marr Chase ahead of Jones as well.
Yet, going into Week 15, the guy at the top is the one that no one really gave much consideration. Mac Jones is now the heavy favorite to win the award, currently sitting at -500 odds. The next best odds belong to Chase, at +350. That Trevor Lawrence guy, who opened the season as a +350 favorite to win the award, currently has no odds listed. Talk about a fall from grace. Suddenly, a senior year at Clemson isn’t looking so bad anymore.
This is not to say that Mac Jones will necessarily have a better career than Lawrence, or any of these young players he’s ranked ahead of. The fact of the matter is, he’s been the best offensive rookie hands down. Chase is the only other one who legitimately deserves a chance at the award.
Mac Jones ranks among Rookie QBs in 2021— El Capitãn (@DomGonzo12) December 14, 2021
Yards per Game: 1st
Touchdown %: 1st
First Downs: 1st
Yards per Attempt: 1st
Passer Rating: 1st
PFF Grade: 1st
Jones is really the only rookie quarterback that is working out well. Lawrence has been bad, but he is in Jacksonville after all. Sort of tough to do well with what is going on there. Zach Wilson has been a disaster. Justin Fields has had some good moments, but certainly not enough. And Trey Lance just hasn’t played much at all.
If we look at the rookie signal callers that have played at least 500 snaps, Jones is the only one with less than 10 interceptions. He’s also the only one with a completion percentage over 60%, currently possessing a 70.3% mark on the season. The next best is Lawrence with 58.2%.
Teams starting a rookie QB are 16-37 this season. The Patriots are 9-4 with Mac Jones and all other teams are 7-33 in games started by rookie quarterbacks.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 15, 2021
Mac Jones is also the only rookie quarterback currently winning games. The top argument I see against Jones is the fact that he plays in New England. There is no doubt, being in New England benefits Jones. The argument can be made all these rookies would like better in New England’s system. However, it takes a certain kind of quarterback to be successful in Foxborough.
We saw what plugging Cam Newton into the system did last year. It’s not as simple as take quarterback X and put him in system Y and that gets you Z. Mac Jones’ style and how he carries himself is what makes him work in New England. His accuracy, his decision making, his poise, those are specific to Jones. A guy like a Zach Wilson for example might not succeed at a high level in New England.
If you put a wager on Jones to win the award earlier in the year, congratulations. At this point, it is a foregone conclusion that the award is his. Unless Jones has a catastrophic final four games, and Ja’Marr Chase starting lighting the earth on fire, this award will be handed to Mac Jones on a silver platter. Rightfully so, I should add.
Photo: (Jeffrey T. Barnes – AP Photo)