New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones received a glowing review Wednesday from the head coach of his upcoming opponent.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers bench boss Bruce Arians had high praise for Jones ahead of Sunday’s Patriots-Bucs matchup, calling the first-round draft pick “legit.”
“I loved him coming out (in the draft),” Arians told Tampa reporters, via a team-released transcript. “He’s smart, a pocket player who’s going to get the ball out, he’s very accurate. Obviously, pressure doesn’t bother him. He played in some big games (at Alabama). He led his team to the championship so, yeah, he’s legit.”
(The Bucs evaluated quarterbacks ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, ultimately selecting Florida’s Kyle Trask in the second round to develop behind Tom Brady.)
Jones has been far from perfect through his first three NFL starts, but he’s been hyper-accurate on underneath throws and has shown poise under pressure, earning the respect and trust of his veteran teammates.
That promise hasn’t translated to many wins or points thus far, however, as the Jones-led Patriots sit at 1-2 — with their lone victory coming over the lowly New York Jets — and have scored just four total touchdowns in three games.
Jones’ latest outing was his shakiest yet. Facing a heavy New Orleans Saints pass rush and trailing by multiple scores for nearly the entire second half, the former Bama star completed 30 of 51 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions in a 28-13 home loss.
Jones will face the toughest test of his young career Sunday night when the Patriots welcome Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs to Gillette Stadium.