Mac Jones Called the Frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year
The way Kay sees it, Jones would edge out Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater for the award.
Mac Jones is off to a sterling start to his professional career. He has completed 71.1 percent of his passes—making him the fifth-most accurate quarterback in football—for 1,243 yards and five touchdowns. While 23-year-old hasn’t been perfect—he’s thrown five interceptions, taken 11 sacks and fumbled twice—he’s shown plenty of poise and confidence under center. The Patriots 2-3, but two of those losses came by less than three points. Jones’ most impressive performance came in a losing effort. In a hyped primetime duel against Tom Brady and the defending-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones managed to keep New England in the game for four full quarters. He completed 31-of-40 passes for 275 yards and two scores before the Pats lost on a missed field goal in the waning moments. If the Alabama product can continue developing on his current trajectory, the Rookie of the Year award won’t be the only hardware he takes home during his career.
From a basic impact standpoint, Chase might be making more of a statement. Obviously, he’s not a quarterback and he has to depend on Joe Burrow throwing him the ball, but the rookie WR has 23 receptions for 496 yards and 5 TDs this season.
He currently ranks in the Top-10 in every major statistical category for receivers. That’s pretty significant. Slater will never get the recognition he deserves because he plays offensive tackle. However, if we were judging each of these rookies based on the way they compare to peers at their positions, Chase and Slater would seemingly sit higher than Jones.
Mac Jones Has Been Solid, Not Sterling
While I agree Jones is having a strong rookie season, I would not describe his first five games as “sterling.”
Jones has shown a reluctance or inability to throw the ball downfield and he’s had some issues with inaccuracy that have led to the interceptions Kay mentioned. His lack of mobility has hurt his ability to avoid sacks and taken a threat away from a Patriots’ offense (considering this was one of Cam Newton’s strengths) that cannot afford to relinquish ways to move the football.
Michael DeVito of Chowder and Champions didn’t lament Jones’ three interceptions against the New Orleans Saints or even his “peashooter” pass tendencies. After the Patriots’ Week 3 loss to the New Orleans Saints DeVito targeted Jones’ bad body language on the sideline after a mistake.
DeVito wrote: “My only issue with New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones after the New Orleans Saints debacle has nothing to do with his three interceptions thrown, or anything else on the field. His receivers and offensive line had a lot more to do with that than he did. His struggles were primarily due to their struggles. My issue with Jones is with him hanging his head (in shame?) on the bench as the shellacking the Patriots took at the hands of the New Orleans Saints at his home stadium. No matter what the end result of that miserable game was, that posture was unacceptable for the quarterback of the Patriots as the youngster has to learn in his first NFL season. The one thing he can’t do is show that he is defeated. He can be beaten but not defeated. And he showed he was defeated by the Saints on his own bench. It’s a lesson all young NFL quarterbacks (not named Tom Brady, who had a full year plus to prep for his intro) probably have to learn and they’d better learn it quickly or they may face more of the same.”
Jones doesn’t need to be perfect to be worth the No. 15 pick in this year’s draft. In fact, it is pretty clear the Patriots made the right decision drafting him.
That said, let’s not get too far ahead ourselves. Jones might wind up deserving the Offensive Rookie of the Year award by season’s end, but he may need to do a little more to have an edge over Chase or Slater.
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