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Mac Jones, Patriots

3 Realistic Expectations for Mac Jones & the Patriots in Year 1

The New England Patriots continue to live life after future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady as the once heralded AFC East franchise was unable to even reach the postseason in 2020-21. Meanwhile, Brady will enter the upcoming 2021 campaign as a member of the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the legendary signal-caller has only thrived since leaving New England following the conclusion of the 2020 season. In the absence of Brady, the Patriots and longtime head coach Bill Belichick elected to turn to former Carolina Panthers quarterback and a former league MVP in Cam Newton. Unfortunately for everyone involved, though, that plan didn’t go quite so well as the Patriots served as a middling team in the AFC throughout the 2020-21 season. Even so, the Patriots did choose to bring Newton back for another round this offseason while also adding former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Seemingly not ready to take any chances with Brady in Tampa Bay and Newton struggling in 2020, Jones could ultimately step in as the team’s starter under center sooner rather than later. While Jones is no doubt the team’s quarterback of the future, it will be interesting to see if the former Alabama standout is also New England’s quarterback of the present — especially with Newton still around for at least another year.

Mac Jones will appear in less than eight regular-season games

Despite being selected by the New England Patriots in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of the world-famous University of Alabama, rookie quarterback Mac Jones won’t see the field all that much in 2021. There is no doubt that the Patriots were intending to draft a quarterback — and probably Jones — even when the team decided to bring veteran signal-caller Cam Newton back into the mix in New England.

Not only that, but the Patriots also employ fellow quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as Jones will likely serve as a back-up to Newton to begin the season. The Patriots will likely have three quarterbacks suit up on gameday in 2021 and Jones might not even be the primary signal-caller off the bench should something happen to Newton.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows that Jones needs time to develop while the rookie quarterback likely won’t see the field until absolutely necessary. With that in mind, Jones will appear in less than eight regular-season games in 2021 — even with 17 outings now on the schedule.

Mac Jones will throw more interceptions than touchdowns

If New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones even sees the field in 2021, it will be in a limited capacity. While this will give him less time to turn the football over, it will also give the up-and-comer less time to work out the kinks in live game action. As a result, there is a very high possibility that Jones ultimately ends his rookie season with more interceptions than touchdown passes.

This is not as harsh as it sounds, though, as Jones will likely only receive significant playing time as a rookie if the team’s starter under center, former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, struggles mightily or gets hurt. If the Patriots remain in contention, it will more than likely be because Newton is playing well, which would remove Jones from the equation. However, if he does see some late-game action or has to come in late in the season to get some playing time for a lowly Patriots team, there will not be much individual success to be had, unfortunately.

Growing pains are part of the game and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will not put Jones in a position to be unsuccessful. Jones’ numbers and statistics as a rookie will not matter much in the long run as the Patriots always seem to have a plan in place for the present and future.

Jones could follow in the footsteps of Indianapolis Colts legend and former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who finished his rookie season with more picks than touchdown passes as well. In fact, Manning set the league’s single-season rookie record with 28 interceptions to coincide with his 26 touchdown passes back in 1998.

Jones will throw more touchdowns to TEs than WRs

All signs are pointing toward the New England Patriots going with former NFL MVP Cam Newton at quarterback to start the 2021  season. However, the Patriots also have former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones waiting in the wings as the team notably selected the former collegiate standout in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

If Jones does manage to see the field for more than garbage time as a rookie in 2021, there will surely be a lot of dumping it down to his tight ends — and for good reason, too.

The Patriots upgraded such a position in a huge way this offseason en route to signing not only former Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith but also former Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry as well. With the talented tight end tandem coming on board in New England via the free-agent market, the Patriots quickly formed one of the best — if not the best — tight end duos in the NFL. With tight ends already serving as a quarterback’s best friend, and especially a rookie quarterback, Jones will likely find his tight ends in the end zone more than his wide receivers.

There is another reason for this possibility, though, as the Patriots’ wide receiver core is less than stellar, which may be an understatement. As it stands today, the Patriots will be going with some combination of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Tre Nixon, Marvin Hall, and Gunner Olszewski at wide receiver. While all of these players have the ability to serve as formidable role players atop the NFL threshold, no one on such a list can truly serve as a go-to option for a rookie quarterback looking to learn the game from a professional viewpoint like Jones will be doing in 2021.