Mac Jones Compared to Heisman-Winning NFL Bust

Getty Mac Jones

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan never has a problem telling you how he feels. That’s especially the case when the subject is the New England Patriots.

The former New York Jets head coach dropped a bomb on Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones on Monday. Jones helped lead the Patriots to a come-from-behind 25-22 win over the Houston Texans on the road.

From the outside looking in, and if one focuses solely on the box scores, it looks as though Jones had a great day. The stats can be deceiving, but Ryan isn’t fooled. He blasted Jones with some tough labels during an epic rant capture in a tweet from NFL insider Dov Kleinman.

While some of the venom Ryan spews about the Patriots has to be taken with a grain of salt, it’s fair to examine a lot of this for validity.

The Danny Wuerffel thing is a gut punch, though.

Who Was Danny Wuerffel?

Unless you’re a hardcore football fan, you might be asking, “who the heck is Danny Wuerffel?”

Well, here’s a quick rundown. Wuerffel is an all-time great college football quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy while at Florida back in 1996. Wuerffel led the NCAA in touchdown passes in 1995-96 while playing in head coach Steve Spurrier’s pass-happy system.

Wuerffel’s weakness was always his arm strength. His positive qualities were his intelligence, accuracy and football IQ. Sounds familiar, right? In the NFL, Wuerffel flamed out. He spent his first three years playing for the New Orleans Saints after being drafted in the fourth round. When the Saints didn’t re-sign him after the 1999 season, Wuerffel played in NFL Europa and led Rhein Fire to the 2000 World Bowl championship during the NFL’s offseason.

Despite that success, Wuerffel struggled to stick with an NFL franchise. He spent single seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and the Washington Football Team organization where he was briefly reunited with Spurrier. Wuerffel was released after the 2002 season and retired the following year at the age of 29.

In his six-year career, Wuerffel appeared in just 25 games, starting 10 times. His QB record in those games was 4-6. He completed 52.6% of his passes for 2,123 yards, 12 TDs and 22 INTs. He never had a season with more TDs than picks.

While there are some similarities in overall makeup, it is safe to say Jones has already surpassed Wuerffel with his play in the first five games of his career. It’s a different time, system and overall situation, but on this alone, Ryan’s comparison is a bit exaggerated.

That said, there are some other elements that aren’t quite as over the top.

Mac Jones Has Looked a Little Like a ‘Peashooter’

The biggest knock on Jones this season has been his reluctance or inability to push the ball down the field for chunk plays. Jones has either elected to throw check-downs or shorter, safer throws, or he’s tried to go deep only to have his accuracy or judgment of an open passing window exposed.

In either case, there is some validity to the “peashooter” label. Jones threw a pick against the Texans that was a combination of poor accuracy and questionable arm strength for a higher-difficulty throw. Even Jones acknowledged after the game, he thre one pick, but there could have been more.

Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Jones said:

CLNS’ Evan Lazar attributes Jones’ issues to bad footwork and misjudging his ability to fit passes into windows on the NFL level. Lazar considers this to be fixable.

Lazar may be right, but all of this points to limitations, which goes back to the “peashooter” label. While it may sound harsh, the crux of the concept is that Jones’ effectiveness is limited to throwing shorter passes where his limited athletic ability isn’t exposed.

Can Jones still have a strong career? Of course, but it is beginning to look as if that will have to happen with an offensive gameplan that protects him and with playmakers on offense who can generate tons of run-after-the-catch success.


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