Mac Jones is not the next Tom Brady because there will never be another Tom Brady. But if the Patriots rookie can get anywhere remotely close, New England will be in business for quite some time.
Jones went toe to toe with Brady on Sunday night, with the greatest of all time and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eking out a win over the Patriots. That was no real fault of Jones, who was especially impressive in the second half when he completed 19 consecutive passes, coincidentally equaling something only Brady has done in Patriots history.
Much was made about Jones’ performance, and while it’s important not to get too caught up in the fourth game of a rookie’s career, Jones did more than enough to keep people excited about his future. He has looked far better than his age at times this season, and when he has looked like a rookie, he typically bounces back.
It’s that sort of resilience, aided by a strong football IQ, that has people in and around the league buzzing about Jones’ potential.
“Just from watching all those years of Josh (McDaniels) talking to Tom, it seems like (Jones) is processing the information pretty well,” an unnamed talent evaluator told The Athletic’s Mike Sando. “He makes mistakes, but you see corrections on some of the mistakes, too.”
That all was evident Sunday night. Jones took a beating in less-than-perfect conditions and made some questionable decisions. But he found a way to make enough plays to keep his team in the game and gave the Patriots a chance to win it late.
Given the performance and the opponent, it’s only natural there were Brady comparisons.
“Jones is strong in two areas. He is a good ball-handler, and he has good fakes,” the evaluator told Sando. “What was (Brady)? A good ball-handler with footwork as good as anyone in the game. If Mac Jones wants to model anything, it’s that. The play-fake he made on the pop pass at the goal line was some pretty good misdirection against the defense. That is the stuff I see. He scores the touchdown, runs to the bench, gives everyone low fives, sits on the bench and listens to Josh talk to him the entire time. That stuff bodes well.”
The Patriots sure hope so.
It’s always going to be unfair to both Jones and Brady to compare the two, but that Jones has been able to be relatively effective — and improve — through his first four weeks on the job, all the while dealing with the sideshow, should be more than enough to feel good about his future.