The New England Patriots’ prospective franchise quarterback Mac Jones received his first NFL action on Thursday in a preseason matchup against the Washington Football Team. He was inserted into the lineup with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and even picked up a first down before the opening stanza came to a close.
After a handoff to Sony Michel on first down of Jones’ first drive, the rookie found an open Jakobi Meyers streaking across the middle of the field. Jones threw it low, however, and it was ruled an incompletion — cancelling what would have been about a 15-yard pickup. On the ensuing third-and-5 play, Jones found Kristian Wilkerson on a comeback route on the left side of the field to move the chains.
On the first play of the second quarter, Jones found Kendrick Bourne for a gain of 13 yards — a throw which split Washington’s zone coverage right through the middle.
What happened next won’t show up in the box score, but Jones took a deep shot to Wilkerson down the left sideline — and while it fell incomplete — the ball couldn’t have been thrown much better. The crowd at Gillette Stadium absolutely exploded.
Ultimately, Jones completed 2 of 5 passes for 20 yards on his first possession and led a 10-play, 43-yard drive which resulted in a 50-yard field goal to push New England’s lead to 6-0. He played all of the second and third quarters before being taken out for veteran Brian Hoyer. At the end of the night, Jones’ stat line read 13 completions on 19 attempts for 87 yards. The numbers themselves don’t look too impressive, but Jones showed impressive anticipation and accuracy in his first NFL outing. Head coach Bill Belichick also toyed with his rookie by putting him in different situations, as the Patriots upped their tempo noticeably on the first possession of the second half and called multiple quick-hitters for Jones to complete. He faired well, as Jones led the Patriots on a 13-play, 53-yard drive which ended with another field goal.
The No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft set an NCAA single-season record with his 77.4 completion percentage last year. It was an impressive campaign which ended in another Crimson Tide championship, as Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his first season as Alabama’s full-time starter. These preseason showings hold more weight than a couple of strong practice sessions. Cam Newton is penciled in as the starting signal-caller as of now. He exited the game after two drives, completing 4 of 7 passes for 49 yards. His first possession was a three-and-out while the second was a nine-play, 54-yard drive which resulted in a field goal.