Ahead of the Patriots’ Week 3 home-opener against the Baltimore Ravens, two different NFL insiders compared Jones to former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer shot down an anti-Jones commenter who sent in a question with a damning tone for the second-year QB. He asked if Bill Belichick would consider benching Jones in favor of rookie backup QB Bailey Zappe.
Breer answered: “Do I have some reservations about Mac Jones? I do think he’s, to a degree, limited physically. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he can be a really good player. And I think the comp I was given before the 2021 draft is a very apt one—Jones looks to me, through 20 NFL starts, like Chad Pennington. Some took that as a shot when I brought it up in the spring of his draft year. I promise you, it’s not. I really liked Pennington as a player, and his résumé can lead you where you need to go with this.”
The second Pennington comp came from the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, though the latter wasn’t as optimistic as Breer.
“I didn’t think I’d be wondering whether I need to recalibrate my expectations for Mac Jones two games into his second NFL season,” Volin admitted. “But I am wondering, if not quite recalibrating yet.”
Jones has looked less than stellar through the first two weeks of the NFL season. He’s thrown 2 TD passes and two picks. The latter number could have been higher had one sure interception not been dropped against the Steelers in Week 2 and if Nelson Agholor hadn’t made an acrobatic aggressive catch to snatch another potential pick away from a defender. Jones’ vision has been poor, and his decision-making hasn’t been much better.
“The frustrating thing with Jones is that he’s not doing the things well that he is supposed to be able to do well,” Volin continued. “Now, we know he does not have a rocket/laser arm by NFL quarterback standards. He reminds me of Chad Pennington. He also reminds me that Tom Brady could throw missiles when he needed to. Maybe Jones will build arm strength. Brady sure did. But there’s only so much improvement that can be made to his fastball.”
The Patriots could do worse than to have found a version of Pennington who will stay healthy. However, arguably Pennington’s greatest attribute was his decision-making and throwing accuracy. To Volin’s point, that part of Jones’ game seems to be slipping.
What’s Next for the Patriots?
The Patriots have their home opener on Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens. the latter is coming off a disappointing loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
The Ravens had a 21-point lead late in the game but wound up blowing the advantage as they struggled to contain the speedy Dolphins receivers. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa threw for 462 yards and 6 TD passes. Looking at the poor performance from the Ravens defense in the second half, the Patriots and Jones have to be thinking big.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots have to find a way to keep Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson from having a crazy all-around game.
Patriots Notes & Quotes: Bill Belichick Loves Lamar Jackson
Bill Belichick is almost always pretty complimentary of an opposing team’s star player, and there was no exception this year when the future Hall-of-Famer gushed over the former NFL MVP.
Belichick revealed that Jackson visited the Patriots just before the Ravens drafted him in 2018. The Patriots passed on Jackson twice to select offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel, whom they took one spot ahead of Jackson at 31st overall.
How different would the NFL landscape be if the Patriots had drafted Jackson to be Tom Brady’s understudy and eventual successor? We’ll never know.