ESPN Analyst: ‘If Mac Jones Was in San Francisco, He Would Be Playing Like Brock Purdy’

Mac Jones, Patriots quarterback

Getty Mac Jones of the New England Patriots.

Brock Purdy of the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers has solidified himself after five games as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks in 2023.

But one TV pundit ascribed Purdy’s success to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system, invoking the name of a struggling AFC quarterback to make a point.

“If Mac Jones was in San Francisco, he would be playing like Brock Purdy,” said ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky on the October 9 episode of “Get Up.”

Jones, of the New England Patriots (1-4), has struggled mightily in 2023, ranking 26th of 32 starting quarterbacks with a QBR of 40.2.

Purdy, meanwhile, ranks No. 1, with a QBR of 83.6 to go along with his 1,271 yards passing, 9 touchdowns, 72.1% completion percentage (second in the league) and league-leading zero interceptions.

Rex Ryan, Stunned After Dan Orlovsky’s Comment, Praises Purdy

To Orlovsky, those numbers are testament to Shanahan’s system. His fellow “Get Up” panelist Rex Ryan appeared stunned after Orlovsky, a former backup quarterback for four teams from 2005 to 2015, seemed to insinuate Jones could replicate Purdy’s incredible if he were simply plugged in as the 49ers’ starting QB.

“Whoa, dog. No, there’s no chance,” said Ryan, a former head coach of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. “There’s no chance. He’d be better than he is, but if you think he’s going to play like Brock Purdy, you haven’t been paying attention to Brock Purdy.

“That is a slap in his face,” Ryan said. “He’s not just a system quarterback. He’s playing like Joe Montana.”

Orlovsky responded: “Did we pay attention to Mac Jones’ rookie year, so that never happened?”

In 2021, Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and finished the year with a total QBR of 56.9, as he led the Patriots to a 10-7 record and a wild-card appearance. His 2021 QBR would rank him 14th among starters, a far cry from Purdy’s top ranking. In 2023, Jones has just over 1,000 yards passing with 5 touchdowns against 6 interceptions.

Brock Purdy Is a Legitimate MVP Contender, Says Richard Sherman

It’s fair to say that Jones doesn’t have the same tools around him in New England — from coaching to playmakers — that Purdy has in San Francisco.

But Shanahan shot down any notion that Purdy, who extends plays with his legs, doesn’t force throws and doesn’t turn over the ball, isn’t great on his own. He also has incredible accuracy and the ability to stand calmly in the pocket to wait for routes to develop.

“That’s pretty ridiculous. You just gotta watch the tape,” Shanahan told reporters on October 4. “He plays at a high level every time he’s been out there. He’s done it in a lot of different situations, versus a lot of different defenses, on the road, at home, playoff games, when injured.”

“Undisputed” cohost Richard Sherman said the October 9 episode of the show, Purdy “should be the MVP of the National Football League. … He’s first in quarterback rating, second in yards per attempt, second in completion percentage, nine touchdowns, 1,200 yards, what more can you ask for?”

A day earlier, in a 42-10 blowout of the Dallas Cowboys, Purdy turned in a brilliant four-touchdown performance in which he finished 17-of-24 for 252 yards and a quarterback rating of 144.4, an ESPN measurement that incorporates all of a quarterback’s contributions to a team by taking into consideration in-game situations.

“Is this a real quarterback or is this just artificial intelligence?" NFL Network's Brian Baldinger said in a tweeted video breakdown of the Cowboys game. “Is this just AI? Like, did they just invent this quarterback?