No Big Deal: Mac Jones is Just the Best Rookie QB in Patriots History is All

Count me among those who agree wholeheartedly with Kendrick Bourne's assessment of Mac Jones here. Even though I've never unironically worked "finna" into a sentence, I am putting "legendary" into use more and more as we work our way through Jones' first season. And while you might make an argument it's just recency bias, since not 48 hours ago I saw him drop a 50 Royale with Cheese on Jacksonville with 22-for-30, 227 yards, 3 TDs and a 128.1 passer rating, I'm really not. I'm sincerely looking Big Picture. 

I say this as someone who's had his hyper-accurate Patriots draft iron sights trained on Jones since last January:

The Patriots interest in Mac Jones might just be them doing their due diligence. Hell, last year Josh McDaniels took a meeting with Justin Herbert, who he had 00% chance of coaching unless he got a job with the Chargers. But them talking to Jones has the potential to go way beyond significant and straight into historic. 

Going into Senior Week, Jones was projected not to last beyond the teens in the first round. Even with questions about his arm strength, suggestions that he was a product of Alabama's system and the talent around him, and his dad bod. ...

There's a very good chance Mac Jones will still be available when New England is still on the board at 15. They shown at least some interest. And no one has more inside knowledge about the guy than his coach's football soul mate. ...

So this is going to be the most fascinating possibility as we kick off 2021 NFL Draft Season. Stay tuned.

The Belichick Whisperer did it again, obviously. Feel free to pause right now and high-5 your screen. 

But I'm speaking as someone who has seen every Patriots quarterback since they first moved to Foxboro and went from the Boston Patriots to the New England Patriots (and were all ready to go with "Bay State Patriots" until someone pointed out to ownership they'll forever be called "the B.S. Patriots") when I say that Jones has had nothing less than the best rookie season by a quarterback they've ever had. And it's not even close. 

I painstakingly put together a handy chart to illustrate the point, courtesy of Pro Football Reference, which likes to get credited for its  service:

Now a few things about these numbers. Yes, they span vastly different eras and therefore it's less an apples-to-apples comparison than it is apples-to-M1A1 Abrams tanks. But it's still illustrative of one simple fact: It's hard to draft and develop a rookie quarterback. And much, much harder to win in said quarterback's rookie season. 

Drew Bledsoe and Jim Plunkett were both No. 1 overall picks. Tony Eason was the 4th at his position, 15th overall, in the celebrated Quarterback Draft of 1983, that sent John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino (taken 12 picks after Eason) to the Hall of Fame. Grogan was a 5th rounder, but arguably the most successful QB the franchise ever had prior to Bledsoe. 

The larger point being, you don't simply go 10-6 (hopefully) 11-6 with your garden variety great prospect under center. It happens maybe once a generation. And never before to this franchise. And it deserves to be appreciated for how special it is. 

And just to address the elephant in the room, which is to say, to do the thing I shouldn't do:

… Brady's rookie season was a wash. He had three pass attempts in all. But to make the obvious comp, with Brady having the full advantage of a season to sit behind Bledsoe and learn, the numbers are eerily similar:

But even here, Jones' passing numbers are better. Adjust them for inflation all you want. Just bear in mind this guy was handed a playbook in May, spent all summer practicing behind Cam Newton with the second offense, and is setting team records. Mostly, he's gotten us a playoff spot and the sky is most definitely the limit. So enjoy. I know I am. And I've practically seen it all. 

And in case you're wondering: Yes. It feels good to be right all the time.