Has Mac Jones Lived Up to the Hype?

Hayden McLaughlin, Contributor

With the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Mac Jones. Even though he was the fifth QB selected, he had tenacity and a chip on his shoulder.  During the preseason he beat out veteran QB, Cam Newton for the starting job. He started all four preseason games, creating repertoires with Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, and most importantly his neighbor, Hunter Henry. Jones and Henry have established themselves as an elite red zone duo with Henry catching 9 of Jones’ 18 TDs on the season. After 14 games the patriots are 9-5 and sit as the second seed in a crowded AFC playoff picture. An impending showdown against Buffalo looms. The question becomes, is Mac ready? 

The best way to look at this is with his stats, starting with completion percentage. Jones’ 69.0% completion percentage ranks third in the league right now. If he continues at this rate he will have the highest completion percentage for a rookie QB in league history, ahead of Dak Prescott’s 67.8% record in 2016. In the pocket, his 18 TD’s come in at 15th on the season, cementing him firmly in the middle of the pack. His ten interceptions also come in at 17th this season. However, he has only thrown four in his past eight games. His offensive line struggled coming into the season, but they have recently found a rhythm. He has been sacked 25 times this season or on 5.5% of his dropbacks. Another metric used by NFL statisticians is QBR which is a combination of passes completed, pass attempts, and touchdowns amongst other things. Jones checks in with a 52.2 which is good for 13th in the league. 

While those basic stats tell a story, let’s delve into more advanced statistics. First, intended air yards per attempt, otherwise known as depth of target. A higher number suggests the player is throwing the ball further, and a lower number means passes closer to the line of scrimmage. Mac comes in with 7.2 yards per attempt. This is 17th in the NFL. This suggests that he throws passes quickly, like screen passes or quick slant routes. This could be due to his average of 2.3 seconds to throw the ball before the pressure reaches him which is 25th in the league. His receivers have accounted for 1505 yards after the catch, meaning most of his passing yards come from plays made by his receivers. His pressure rate is 18.8% which falls into 30th in the league, an excellent number. He has only scrambled to escape pressure 10 times, which falls into 30th on the season, which correlates with his low-pressure rate. 

Even after viewing all of these stats, the verdict is still out there. He is the frontrunner for rookie of the year and captaining a young patriots squad to the top of the AFC. Can he remain atop the mountain or will he be knocked off by another quarterback? His career will be watched closely especially by New England fans.