With a few more hours to think about it and rewatch the highlights, a game where Mac Jones got his NFL V-card swiped that seemed in real time to be everything you'd hope it would be, just looks better and better. And while it's a horribly overused word in the worlds of sports, politics and awards show, you might even call it "historic."
Not to mention, he was 9-for-12 for almost 10 yards per completion on 3rd downs. Plus 7-for-10 for over 10 YPC under pressure, including the TD to Nelson Agholor. Also 14-for-18 with 124 yards against the blitz. And of course would've been better if it were not for turnovers and penalties committed by Patriots other than Jones. Like the one that negated this gem:
Which, while it doesn't count, nevertheless demonstrated an ability to escape the pocket an deliver a bullseye upfield while in a full sprint from a guy who was taken after four other quarterback prospects precisely because he supposed to be "not athletic enough."
Here's how Sports Illustrated describes Jones' first day of school:
[I]n the midst of a downpour of yellow laundry, Mac Jones was a ray of sunshine.
Jones was a maestro under center; his virtuoso was a patient harmony of precise quick throws, piercing line drives, and rainbows.
Though he delivered a few errant throws in terms of placement, he made the correct reads on virtually every play. His poise in the pocket and ability to avoid pressure while keeping his eyes downfield was impressive. Many young quarterbacks (and even veterans, for that matter) are too eager to leave the pocket after a few seconds, even if it remains clean; Jones showed the maturity to stay in, maneuver, and deliver strikes.
Yikes. And people think I'm a shameless, over-the-top fanboy. Get a room, you two. But it's not an inaccurate assessment. To a person, Jones' veteran teammates said they were impressed with the way he threw, ran the huddle, and generally led the team. But to me the best perspective was from Jason McCourty, who also had a standout game in Brian Flores' defense, which was one of the best in the league last year. "He didn’t really make any mistakes, he was poised. Even watching him in the huddle getting guys in, yelling, commanding, and a lot of what he looked like in the preseason, is how he performed," he said. "He gave his team a chance to win. He didn’t really make any mistakes, didn’t throw any errant passes and he is a poised young guy."
But for all that, it's possible that his best moments of the day weren't the throws to his tight ends or that perfect touch pass into James White's bucket. Not even that touchdown, where he stood tall in the pocket, waited for the routes to develop, and then put the ball where Agholor could secure it and make a play. It's what happened on the way back to the sidelines that's making my small heart grow three sizes this day:
And the reason why he treated the memento of this milestone life's achievement like someone on the subway was trying to hand him a religious pamphlet?
That IS my quarterback. No one on the planet would've begrudged the kid from hanging onto the ball. No. One. But in the moment he felt like it was more important to let his team know - and put the world on notice - that he's not here to post numbers. Just W's. He'll leave it to others (me) to laud him for his stats. This isn't Fantasy football. The only thing he's fantasizing about is riding through Copley Square in an amphibious vehicle. And the only way to take that journey is to work hard, focus on the tasks at hand and get better every time out.
As a matter of fact, Jones was pretty much miserable after the game. He spoke like a product of Nick Saban's genetics lab, bred to play quarterback for Bill Belichick. Which he was. He even violated Josh McDaniels' orders to have fun and enjoy the experience. “I think we can get better," he said in the postgame. "That's just how we have to look at it. Definitely wasn't good enough, starting with me. So we've got to watch the film. We lost, so it's not good enough. " he said.
Then when asked about the shots he took added, "My body feels good, but it wasn't good enough, and we've got to just come back tomorrow and get ready to work. Like the shots I took, some of them were my fault. I need to get the ball out quicker, and that's part of football. You have to expect to get hit. Our offensive line played good, and they're going to get better, and we're going to work together because it takes all of us. They're a great group of guys, but I think we can definitely improve on our communication, and that's what we're going to do."
Damn. Next press conference Jones gives, I want Belichick in plain sight drinking a big glass of water so we know it's not just him throwing his voice.
This is exactly what you're hoping for out of your team leader and franchise face for the next 20-plus years. (That is, before he leaves us to go piss excellence in Florida.) Pure stoicism. We weren't good enough, starting with me. We've got to get better in all three phases. We're gonna look at the film and work to improve. Jackpot. Just when you thought he came off like a seasoned veteran, he turned out to handle his first game even better than that. And I'm sure the whole team is as happy as I am to hear it.