Tom Brady got the win Sunday night, but there’s a legitimate case to be made that Mac Jones was the better quarterback.
The New England Patriots’ rookie signal-caller was poised and efficient in the 19-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, drawing rave reviews from Brady himself, among others.
It can be tough to gameplan for a rookie quarterback, especially one who had varying success through three games. But for Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, Jones was precisely what he was billed to be.
“Just like I thought he would be, calm and cool,” Arians said after the game. “Played his tail off. Yeah, he gave his team a chance to win.”
Jones is similar to Brady in that he has a quick release, which buys him a little extra time since he prefers sitting in the pocket. The Bucs were acutely aware of that and planned accordingly.
?We knew he wasn?t a mobile quarterback,” Bucs linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka said. “He likes to stay in the pocket with the ball, looking for his second and third options. We knew if we got him off his spot, we’d be fine.”
All told, Jones completed 31 of his 40 passes for 275 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception, which was the product of bad luck on a tipped ball. More importantly than the stat line is that he played confidently on a huge stage, and proved why the Patriots have viewed him so favorably.
That’s not a belief held exclusively in New England’s locker room, either.
“Nah (he didn’t surprise me), I just wish he held on to the ball a little longer when I hit him,” Bucs linebacker Devin White said. “I feel like he’s gonna be a great quarterback in this league. He’s very intelligent. He was poised, we hit him a lot of times and he stayed in the scheme, moved the ball for them when it was time to move the ball for them. Hey, hats off to him. I wish him well for the rest of the season.”
We might never see Jones face Brady again. No matter what, the 23-year-old has reason to keep his head held high.