NFL Analyst Unloads Wild Mac Jones Assessment

Getty Mac Jones

The New England Patriots are 7-4, looking like an elite NFL team, and at the very least, rookie quarterback Mac Jones isn’t putting his team in tough situations.

At his best, he’s making the types of decisions and throws that lead you to believe he could ascend into the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers as soon as next season. Count former Pro-Bowl safety and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark amongst the group signing Jones’ praises. On the most recent episode of Get Up, Clark went on a positive rant about the Patriots and Jones.

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Clark had some wildly high praise for Jones. Take a look and listen to the video in the tweet below: 

Don’t you believe for one minute that Clark is alone on the Jones praise team. Alex Kirshner of Slate declared Jones the top rookie QB and by a wide margin.

Kirshner wrote: “The book won’t be written for years on any of these new QBs—please don’t take any of this as a proclamation that Jones will forever outshine Lawrence and Fields—but more than halfway through one season, Jones is at the top of the class by a wide margin. He has already shown he can be a playable starter, which is no small feat and well worth the pick the Pats spent on him. Overall, he’s 17th in ESPN’s Quarterback Rating, 17th in yards per pass, and 19th in touchdown-to-interception ratio. If you shrink your evaluation field to more recent periods, his placements would be better. But on the whole, he’s been an average-ish starter as a rookie, good enough for New England to ride to a surprising 6–4 record. And his numbers might undersell him. The game-charters at Pro Football Focus have graded him as the fifth-best QB in the NFL this season, right between Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray. Nobody else in the rookie class is higher than 28th. Lance hasn’t taken over the San Francisco 49ers yet. Lawrence and Wilson are in meat-grinding situations with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets. And Justin Fields has had a really bad time with the Chicago Bears, though he has recently flashed some encouraging signs.”

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Clark’s rant has some historical references, so how on point was he with his assessment of Jones’ rookie season?

Comparing Mac Jones to QBs With Great Rookie Seasons

Through the first 11 games of the season, Jones has passed for 2,540 yards, 14 TDs and 8 INTs. He has completed 70% of his passes and the Patriots have already equaled their win total from 2020.

With proper perspective applied to the differences in rules and focus during different eras of the NFL, here is a short list of good and great quarterbacks with their basic passing stats as rookies, or in Tom Brady’s case, his first full season as a starter.

  • Peyton Manning – 3,739 passing yards, 26 TDs, 28 INTs
  • John Elway – 1,663 passing yards, 7 TD, 14 INTs
  • Carson Palmer – 2,897 passing yards, 18 TD, 18 INT
  • Tom Brady – 2,843 passing yards, 18 TDs, 12 INT
  • Lamar Jackson – 1,201 passing yards, 6 TDs, 3 INT
  • Matthew Stafford – 2,267 passing yards, 13 TD, 20 INT
  • Dan Marino – 2,210 passing yards, 20 TDs, 6 INT

Some didn’t play 16 games as starters, but it is easy to see Jones is well on his way to having one of the best seasons ever by a rookie QB. Only Miami Dolphins legend Dan Mariono seems to have done a better job in his first season.

From a pure statistical standpoint, this somewhat validates Clark’s claim.

The Numbers Should Give the Bears, 49ers, Jets and Jaguars Hope

On the flip side, the struggle stats from Manning, Brady, Jackson, Palmer, Elway and Stafford should offer some encouragement to the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s true, Lawrence, Wilson, Lance and Fields are having as much success as Jones in their first seasons. However, if you judged some of the greats referenced by their rookie numbers, you wouldn’t have predicted they would go on to have such successful careers.

Perhaps that’s what we will see from the players trailing Jones for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

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