Thursday night saw much of the same from New England Patriots first-rounder Mac Jones, as he built upon what has been a camp headlined with resounding reviews for the former Alabama signal-caller. Similar to actions he’s shown throughout his time in Tuscaloosa, Jones was extremely efficient and decisive, showing pocket presence with zip we had yet to see from Jones in a professional uniform.
In limited work compiling just four offensive series, Jones showed pocket presence and confidence beyond his years, as his first drive saw him within the shadow of his own goal-line to begin his night. During his opening drive, after Jones’ pass over the middle to Kendrick Bourne was broken up by a ranging linebacker, he found the hands of N’Keal Harry for a gain of 19 yards as the Patriots faced 3rd-and-13. The completion got Jones’ wheels turning for a drive that ultimately went 17 plays and 91 yards, culminating in a one-yard Rhamondre Stevenson touchdown run. During the drive, Jones went 4-of-6 for 53 yards, including a 19-yard pitch and catch to running back Sony Michel.
As he was against Washington in his professional debut, Jones showed extreme efficiency in captaining a Patriots offense to the tune of 146 yards through the air, completing 13 of his 19 passes to complete his night of work.
This is special here from Jones, as he uncorked a rocket to the chest of Gunner Olszewski for a 21-yard gain. With pressure aplenty, Jones remained unfazed, staying tall and sturdy in his base, tucking the rock through traffic to set up his dart to the Patriots slot-man. What was even more impressive was his progression through his routes, as Olszewski was option two in the route concept. Jones quickly looks left, then right, recognizing the soft spot in coverage, quickly followed by a dart through two Eagles defenders to complete the play.
This is about as pretty as it gets from the quarterback spot. Lined up with a simple 2x1 concept with Harry split out to his left, this play call from New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was as much an attempt to showcase Jones’ ball placement ability, as it was to give Harry, who reportedly requested a trade earlier this offseason, a chance to finally make a play on the football.
But, let’s focus on Jones.
From pre-snap, Jones recognizes the Eagles are running man on the outside with four wideouts present. Following a decisive five-step drop in which Jones quickly bounces off his back foot to hop up in the pocket, he unleashes a beautiful 50-yard throw Harry absolutely has to come down with if he envisions a roster spot come the turn of the month. Jones’ lofty throw couldn’t have been placed better if you walked up and put it into Harry’s hands.
Simply put, it was a big-time throw.
With just one preseason game remaining, Jones has left an awfully tough decision to make on the plate of Bill Belichick, as Cam Newton also enjoyed a mistake-free evening. Many of the enticing traits Jones has shown in practice this summer—timing, rhythm, anticipation—were present once again in his second preseason performance. While we can always play the role of devil's advocate and reiterate Jones faced the backend of the Eagles depth chart; you’re judged off the competition you face. By anyone’s account on the New England sideline, Jones showed more than enough to show he not only belongs but has the necessary traits to masthead the Patriots’ offense if called upon to do so in the regular season.