How good was Mac Jones’ rookie season?
If you ask CBS Sports host Damon Amendolara about the New England Patriots quarterback: “I never got the Mac Jones hype.”
Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show” weekday mornings on CBS Sports Radio from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. ET and joined Heavy ahead of the 2022 Super Bowl to preview some top NFL offseason storylines, including the future of the Patriots.
Examining Amendolara’s Take on Jones
Jones finished runner-up in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year race behind Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase, but according to Amendolara, the success could be a little deceiving.
When asked whether Jones would become the fourth-best QB in the AFC East behind Josh Allen, Zach Wilson and a potential upgrade under center for the Miami Dolphins, Amendolara was on board.
“I like that take,” the CBS sportscaster told Heavy. “I never got the Mac Jones hype. They won games and at times he threw a pretty football. He had everything stacked in his direction.”
With Jones starting every game of his rookie season, the Patriots finished 10-7 and qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason with a 7-9 mark in 2020. Jones also made the Pro Bowl as a replacement after completing 67.6% of his passes, throwing for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
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“He had a veteran coach that has been there, obviously one of the greats of all time,” Amendolara told Heavy. “He had an offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels who had kind of perfected that offense over the last couple of seasons.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick elected to go with Jones over veteran Cam Newton, whom he’d brought back for a second season. Newton was cut after preseason and Jones was delivered to McDaniels as his pet project. Jones’ success helped to vault McDaniels into his new role as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
“They [Patriots] spent all that money in the offseason on free agents, including two veteran tight ends and a veteran wide receiver in [Nelson] Agholor and they had a power running game. I mean if you can’t succeed as a quarterback with all those pieces–oh and one of the best defenses in football–well then you’re really terrible. So Mac Jones was serviceable, but I didn’t think he was anything great this season,” Amendolara told Heavy.
Jones’ Support Group in New England
The Patriots paid tight ends Jonnu Smith (four years, $50 million) and Hunter Henry (three years, $37.5 million) handsomely. Those two guys were supposed to help make life easier for Jones. Henry did his part leading the team in touchdown receptions (9), but Smith was a major disappointment with just 28 receptions for 294 yards and a touchdown.
Agholor would fall into the same category as Smith. He mustered only 37 receptions for 473 yards and 3 touchdowns, which was a far cry from what the team hoped to get from him after he signed a two-year, $22 million deal.
New England did have a powerful running game behind a strong offensive line featuring David Andrews, Ted Karras, Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown. That group, when healthy, was key in providing rushing lanes for Damien Harris and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. New England rushed for 2,151 yards as a team.
There is no question, Jones landed in the healthiest spot among all of the rookie quarterbacks. Because of this, he isn’t likely to get his respect until he can string together some more stat-healthy seasons.
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