The Mac Jones era officially began on Sunday in Foxborough. Yet, despite a good showing by the rookie signal-caller, the New England Patriots could not pull out the victory in his first career start. The Patriots dropped their season opener against the Miami Dolphins 17-16.
Despite the loss, Jones played well, but the team could not overcome costly turnovers and penalties. Jones finished 29 out of 39 for 281 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. They will now travel to Metlife Stadium and face the New York Jets, where Jones will make his start on the road.
It is now clear that the Patriots are HIS team. He won the starting quarterback job and had a solid NFL debut. The question now that Patriots fans, as well as NFL fans, are asking is if he is the heir apparent in New England?
Mac Jones’s Background
Jones was a three-star recruit out of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. The school is a private college preparatory day and boarding school. He originally committed to the University of Kentucky before eventually deciding to go to Alabama. Jones redshirted his freshman season in 2017.
He appeared in 14 games, mostly as a holder on special teams as a sophomore. He would get his opportunity to play in 2019 when he replaced starter Tua Tagovailoa after he suffered a hip injury. He made four starts and was 97 of 141 for 1503 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
In 2020 he had an excellent season, as he was a consensus All-American and won the Davey O’Brien, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, and Manning Awards. He also finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up to teammate DeVonta Smith. He was 311 of 402 for 4500 yards with 41 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He set an NCAA record with his 77.4 completion percentage. Most important of all, he led the Crimson Tide to another national championship making it seven (six at Alabama) for head coach Nick Saban.
Drafted By Patriots And Training Camp
Jones would declare for the 2021 NFL Draft and be one of the top quarterback prospects available. He would eventually be taken with the 15th pick by the Patriots, making him the first quarterback to be taken in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. It seemed that he would be the backup to starter Cam Newton, but he started turning heads in rookie mini-camp with his play-making skills and leadership.
He would report to training camp where he and Newton would battle for the starting job. After a great camp and preseason in which he finished 36 of 52 for 389 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, he won the starting job.
In his first NFL start against the Miami Dolphins, despite the loss, he played well but the Patriots could not overcome turnovers and penalties. He showed poise and leadership and it looks like he has the ability to be a successful NFL quarterback.
Finding A Franchise Quarterback
Everyone knew that Cam Newton was not going to be the long-term quarterback in New England, but when would the Patriots find the heir apparent to franchise icon Tom Brady? It can take years for an organization to find their’s when they lose its franchise quarterback. Dan Marino retired in 1999 and the Dolphins are still trying to find his successor.
The Denver Broncos are in the same situation as the Dolphins. John Elway retired in 1998 and the Broncos are still searching for his replacement. The Indianapolis Colts had the fortune of replacing Peyton Manning with Andrew Luck, only for him to retire after only seven seasons due to injury. The Green Bay Packers were able to replace Brett Favre with Aaron Rodgers and the Buffalo Bills finally found their replacement for Jim Kelly, who retired in 1996, with Josh Allen.
The Patriots are currently in year two after Brady. He spent and played 20 seasons in New England, leading them to nine Super Bowls and winning six championships. He will always be loved and admired by Patriots fans for what he did for the organization.
Even when he returns to lead the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a Week Four matchup, he is sure to hear applause from the crowd. It will not just be the Buccaneers vs the Patriots, but Brady vs Jones, and the past vs the future.
Is He The Heir Apparent?
So is Mac Jones the heir apparent? The answer is yes. Jones has the tools to be a good quarterback in the NFL. He is accurate, shows poise, and seems to have that leadership quality quarterbacks must have. Not too many players can play for the Patriots, much less quarterbacks due to Bill Belichick.
You have to be strong mentally and be able to handle him. Jones played for Belichick’s good friend Nick Saban when he was in Alabama. There he succeeded and played well, becoming a first-round pick and national champion. If he can play for him, he can certainly play for Belichick.
Jones will not win six championships as Brady did for the Patriots. However, having them be perennial contenders like they have the last 20 years, he will at least have a chance to win one maybe two. The chance is all that the Patriots, as an organization, can ask for.
Be sure to check out the OTH Football Podcast on both Spotify and YouTube!