The Atlanta Falcons return to the gridiron on Thursday night to take on the New England Patriots at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
It’s a short week for both teams to prepare as the Falcons look to redeem themselves from an embarrassing 43-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Pats, led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones, will try to stay hot after stomping the Cleveland Browns.
Inevitably, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was asked about Jones in Monday’s press conference. Specifically, FOX 5’s Miles Garrett (not to be mistaken for the Brown’s defensive end ‘Myles Garrett’) asked Smith how Jones has “compared to some other rookie QBs in this class.
Respectfully, Smith declined to answer that question as he said he made it clear he did not want to get “caught in an Old Takes Exposed” tweet later down the road, which is a Twitter account with over half a million followers that exposes terrible takes.
“If we’re going to write rookie narratives right now––you go ahead and put it in that freezing cold take and so we can all look at this in two years––seen it,” he said. “See the guys that have the good seven-game stretch and they want to put them in Canton and then the other guys end up emerging later on.”
That is probably a wise way to answer a question like that since Jones is currently leading the rookie quarterbacks with 2,333 passing yards, 13 touchdowns to seven interceptions and a QB rating of 51.1. Jones has really outmatched the other rookie QBs so far this season, who have a rating of 34 or lower as of Week 11––but there is still plenty of ball left to play.
Just this past Sunday, Jones threw three touchdowns and had and zero interceptions in the Patriots’ 45-7 Week 10 victory. That was not the case for Falcons’ 14-year NFL veteran, Matt Ryan, who completed just 9 of 21 passes for 117 yards and had two interceptions topped with a career-worst passer rating of 21.4.
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What Smith & Ryan Had to Say About Jones
The Patriots selected the former Alabama quarterback at No. 15 overall back in April. He spent training camp battling against Cam Newton for the starting job and ultimately beat him out. As for Newton, he found his way back to Carolina last week.
“He’s smart, he’s efficient,” Smith said on Monday, Nov. 15 of Jones. “He’s doing a really good job for them. Can tell he’s doing what they’re asking them to do.”
He’s already off to a great start in his rookie year, putting the Patriots at 6-4 entering Week 11 against the Falcons. However, nobody would have expected this to be the case for a New England team that kicked off the season 1-3 before they would go on to win five of their next six matchups––plus four straight.
“He looks poised,” Matt Ryan said. “I’ve been impressed. I mean, nothing seems too big for him. He goes out there and just continues to compete and make good plays for them. Seems to get them in the right plays and right protections and those kinds of things quite a bit. So, of the little I’ve seen, I think he’s done a good job.”
Of course, it helps when you have a group of solid weapons starting with the backfield led by Damien Harris. Although, Harris was sidelined last week so Rhamondre Stevenson picked up the workload pumped out 100 yards against the Browns. In addition to his running backs, Jones has two star receivers in Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne.
“They’re playing really efficient on offense,” Smith said. “He’s going to make the right read for them. They’re playing really well as a team.”
But what has also helped this team win games is their stingy defense, led by Matthew Judon, who ranks fourth in the league with 9.5 sacks. Overall, the Patriots’ defense ranks second in points allowed with 17.7 per game and sixth in yards allowed with just 328 yards per game.
It’s safe to say Atlanta will have their hands full on Thursday Night Football.