Most Patriots fans are not upset at this, however. Yes, a Patriots win on Sunday night against the reigning super bowl champs and Brady would have been nice. However, what came out of this game is so much bigger.
This game will go down in history as the day Mac Jones came into his own. Jones was drafted with the 15th pick in the draft after a championship year at Alabama.
The kid went from Nick Saban to Bill Belichick, perhaps two of the best head coaches of all time at their respective levels. Mac Jones seems to be adjusting to the NFL just fine, and he proved that on Sunday night.
— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2021
Mac Jones is the Future
The past vs the present. Tom Brady vs Mac Jones. All the hype in the week going into this game was behind Brady vs Belichick and the pressure on them. Perhaps the person feeling the most pressure was Mac Jones.
Whether he felt this or not, Jones went 31/40 with 275 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception, even though the interception wasn’t his fault. Jones continues to play well for a rookie.
The Patriots’ strength is in their run game. But since Tampa has the top run defense in the league, they had to resort to their young quarterback’s arm. It seems that the Pats will trust him with the ball more.
With a banged-up offensive line, you would think that a rookie would let the pocket collapse on him and take sack after sack. This wasn’t the case. While he wasn’t making plays with his legs like Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson, he was able to step up and complete passes either in the backfield or down the field.
The absence of Trent Brown with a calf injury isn’t helping Jones. He is missing his big 300+ pound offensive tackle.
Building Around Jones
It is clear that the Patriots’ offense does need work. It’s clear that this year’s offense is miles better than last year’s. The addition of Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Hunter Henry is really showing they were worth the paychecks.
MAC ATTACK 😤 @MacJones_10
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) October 4, 2021
However, they aren’t perfect. With many drops and turnovers on key drives, it makes it really hard to score. When Mac Jones is playing lights out, it is really frustrating for him when his team turns the ball over when they are marching down the field.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 4, 2021
The Defense Behind Jones
The defense is a whole other story; they held the high-powered Buccaneers offense to 19 points. They did their job. The offseason addition of Matt Judon has been well worth it.
Judon has emerged as the best player on the defense this year. Though he only has 4.5 sacks and 10 solo tackles this year, his presence in the pressure of the quarterback into making a bad decision has been crucial.
If the Patriots get Stephon Gilmore back this year and don’t trade him before the deadline, that will make them so much more deadly.
Mac Jones outplayed Tom Brady
Though Jones lost this game, he still outplayed Brady in the stat charts. For a rookie to hang around and take the World Champions to the final minute of the game is very rare.
Jones put his team in the position to win the game. He did his job. The weather conditions made a 56-yard field goal difficult, but the opportunity to win was still their thanks to Mac Jones, the future of the New England Patriots.