Mac Jones’ rookie season with the Patriots was mostly solid.
The young quarterback performed well while leading New England to a 10-7 regular-season record and a playoff berth. He seemingly earned the trust of his teammates and coaches, and there’s reason to believe the 23-year-old has a bright future in the NFL.
But will Jones evolve into one of the league’s best QBs?
That’s debatable, largely because questions remain about Jones’ physical traits. Jones is an accurate passer and a good decision-maker, but he doesn’t have the strongest arm, which ultimately could limit his potential.
“He’s cerebral, but his arm is weak, which will hurt him in that division in cold-weather games,” an AFC executive told Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed.
Jones totaled 3,801 passing yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He completed 67.6% of his passes while averaging 7.3 yards per attempt.
New England’s offense took a step forward in 2021 after a disappointing 2020, due in large to Jones’ performance. Grasping an NFL playbook, within a complex system, clearly wasn’t an issue for the first-year signal-caller, but he definitely landed in a favorable situation underneath Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
“Good rookie year but needs a lot of things around him,” the executive told Kyed.
The Patriots leaned on their strong rushing attack and excellent defense in 2021, a winning formula until later in the season, when New England lost four of its final five games, including its wild-card playoff matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
At some point, Jones might need to elevate his play and become the driving force behind New England’s offense as the Patriots look to supplant the high-powered Bills in the AFC East. It’ll be clearer then whether Jones’ physical limitations are an issue at football’s highest level.
Nevertheless, so far, so good for the Alabama product.