Why Hunter Henry Was ‘Really Proud’ Of Mac Jones After Patriots Debut

'He did a tremendous job out there'

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Count Hunter Henry among those who came away impressed by Mac Jones’ first start in a New England Patriots uniform.

Henry lauded the rookie quarterback Wednesday, saying the rookie quarterback “did a great job” in New England’s 17-16 loss to a Miami Dolphins team that pressured him throughout.

“I was really proud of him and how he handled it,” the Patriots tight end said.” He had a lot of poise and obviously delivered the ball really well, sat in there in the pocket even when the pocket was coming down. He made some big-time throws that sometimes a lot of other guys aren’t going to make, just standing in the pocket and taking hits and different things like that.

“That shows a lot to us, as guys — a guy that’s going to stand in there no matter what and deliver the ball. It was big to see. So he’s only going to continue to get better the more game reps and the more practice reps and all the reps that we take.”

The Dolphins sacked Jones just once — on his first career dropback — but hit him nine times. Jones completed passes on six of those plays, with four resulting in a first down or touchdown.

“He did a tremendous job out there,” Henry said. “They threw some different things that we hadn’t seen early on in the game that we had to adjust to, so that kind of came with it a little bit, and I feel like we adjusted well. Mac handled it really well, and I felt like as an offense, we handled it pretty well for seeing different looks.”

Jones completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers in the loss. Though he relied mostly on shorter throws — his average intended air yards in Week 1 ranked 26th in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats — he delivered impressive downfield completions to Nelson Agholor (for 21 and 25 yards) and James White (for 26 yards). He also had a 33-yard pickup to Kendrick Bourne — while scrambling to his right and being hit from behind — wiped out by a holding call.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” said Henry, who caught three passes on three targets for 31 yards after missing all three Patriots preseason games with a shoulder injury. “Being a young guy, being a rookie and being the starter (in) the first live game that he’s played, he’s handled it tremendously. Nothing but good words to say about him, good things to say and only things that he’s going to continue to get better (at).

“He’s super selfless. Like, standing in those pockets and taking those shots and throwing the ball, it shows a lot to the linemen, to us, receivers. That’s big time. He’s going to continue to have to do that, and we’re going to have to protect him better. We’re going to have to do different things for him. But yeah, he’s a selfless player, and I’m excited to continue to work with him.”

The Patriots outgained the Dolphins 393 to 259, possessed the ball for more than 36 minutes to Miami’s 23 and went 11-for-16 on third down. But they went just 1-for-4 in the red zone, lost two fumbles — including one inside the Dolphins’ 10-yard line with less than four minutes remaining — and committed eight penalties for 84 yards.

“We’ve got to clean up what we did,” Henry said. “We can’t win football games in the National Football League playing like we did the other day. We played a great game besides the turnovers and besides the penalties. That’s going to beat you every single week. So we’ve got to clean those things up and really take pride in them.”

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