Mac Jones is a rookie. There have been many times this season when he hasn’t looked like one, though. He’s avoided mistakes. He’s made big plays when the moment called for one. There’s only one Tom Brady, but if you squint a little, Mac has looked a little Brady-ish, circa 2001.
He’s also looked overwhelmed at various points. One of those points is right now.
The First Buffalo Game
That first Buffalo game three weeks ago was Bill Belichick’s opus of 2021. Mac Jones was called upon to throw but three passes, yet the Patriots still won by dominating on the ground and bottling up Josh Allen, which was aided by the gusting winds. It was a marvelous and unique performance by the Pats.
Did it throw off Mac Jones, though?
Jones was on an incredible run in the three games before the first Buffalo game. He compiled a 6:1 TD:INT, 715 passing yards, and completed a whopping 79% of his passes. Three New England victories. Then the offense completely went away from the passing game in windy Buffalo, and Mac Jones hasn’t been able to recapture the magic we saw during the Patriots’ six-game winning streak.
It’s worth wondering if that windy game sapped some of Mac’s confidence. At the very minimum it threw him off his groove. Because since then, he’s been a completely different quarterback.
Mac Jones has faced two very good defenses in Indy and Buffalo since the first Buffalo game. He’s also been leaned on more so than the three-pass game (obviously). The Pats have fallen behind by multiple scores in both contests, meaning they needed to air it out a bit. That amounted to four picks and two scores on just a 52% completion percentage.
If Mac can find it again, the Patriots are in good shape for a playoff run. They can probably still make it if he continues to suck, but it’ll likely be one and done. With shaky QB play, they really only have one way to consistently win; get ahead early, dominate on defense, run, run, and run some more. A comeback, like they’ve needed the past few weeks, is not in the cards.
Maybe Jacksonville this week will help him find what’s been missing.