By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – Mac Jones is a rookie. He’s also a winner of 10 games, a starter of 16, and he will soon get his first taste of NFL playoff action.
That’s a relatively rare reason for a novice QB, and this year’s current harvest of first-year signal callers reveals the harsh truth. Jones shared the field on Sunday with No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, who will soon welcome a new No. 1 overall pick as his teammate in Jacksonville. Zach Wilson (No. 2 pick) and Jets were essentially eliminated from the playoffs in Week 5. Trey Lance (No. 3 overall) has barely played for a 49ers team in the playoffs, and Justin Fields (No. 11 overall) will soon working under a new head coach after the Bears’ terrible season.
According to to USA Today, who went into this season, only 12 rookie quarterbacks had ever started 10 games in the regular season while leading their team to the playoffs. Jones now stands to become No. 13.
It’s been a pretty rookie year for Jones, who beat Cam Newton in training camp for the starting job and has had a steady impact on a Patriots offense that is in the middle of the pack in terms of yards, but eighth in number of points scored . Jones’ accuracy has been transferred from the college level to the NFL when he broke Dak Prescott’s rookie record on Sunday with his ninth game with a completion rate of 70 percent.
Jones was well prepared for this phase during his college career in Alabama, where he led the team to an undefeated, national championship season. As such, he made it a point not to get too far ahead of himself when he was asked on Sunday about the excitement of getting to the playoffs in year one.
“Yes, I think any sport you play, you want a chance to play for a championship and a playoff spot,” Jones said. “We have a big fight next week and that’s what we’re going to focus on, and finish strong and all that. We want to focus on that and be where our feet are and when the next one comes, have we have a new plan and attack it. “
While Jones would generally choose to be critical of himself instead of singing his own praises, his head coach and teammates were exuberant after Sunday’s victory.
“Mac is super consistent,” Bill Belichick said. “Every day is really the same day for Mac. He’s always well prepared. He’s getting started early. He’s ready to go. He knows what we’re going to do and he’s already got a head start on it. He’s maximizing. the information that the coaches give him maximizes the reviews, the practice representatives and learns from whatever happens in these situations.He is smart.He is a good learner but he has good instincts and good mechanics.He has just worked hard to get better every day. A lot of consistency and good work ethic and is really attentive to detail and has just improved in all areas over the year. Continues to get better on a daily basis. “
Belichick added: “He’s just a really good person to coach because he’s so responsive to trying to do everything you want to do. Josh [McDaniels] has done a fantastic job with him, and Mac has really, I think, embraced the wisdom that Josh has transferred to him. “
Running back Damien Harris knows Jones from their Alabama days, and he was asked to explain how Jones has navigated his rookie season with such success.
“I’ll leave most of that question to Coach Belichick or Coach Josh. But one thing I want to say about Mac that clearly shows in the way he plays is that he shows up every day ready to work, ready to do his job, “said Harris, who is now linked with Curtis Martin for the second-fastest touchdowns in a single season in the Patriots’ history. , and we just want to win. We all have the same goal, we all play for the same reason – we play to win and we play for each other. So Mac comes in here every single day ready to lay his head down and just grind and work, just like the rest of us. So when you have a lot of guys doing it, you have something special. “
Jakobi Meyers finally had his first touchdown connection with Jones on Sunday (his second touchdown was thrown by Brian Hoyer) and he was asked when he knew Jones was capable of leading this team to the playoffs.
“Day one, quite frankly,” Meyers replied. “We all came in here with goals and hopes of reaching the off-season. So it was not really a doubt about ourselves or: ‘Hopefully we see if we can make it later.’ But even when we lost, we had a feeling that we were a good team and we had goals to reach.
Kristian Wilkerson, who had the biggest day of his young NFL career on Sunday, shared what it’s like to play with Jones.
“I love playing with the Mac and playing for the Mac. He’s a leader,” Wilkerson said, “and he takes command.”
Although the words of praise for Jones were easy to find on Sunday, it was not just love from his Patriots teammates. Matt Judon, who as usual showed off some stylish clothes and jewelry, was asked when Jones might be able to show a similar sense of fashion during his own post-game press conferences.
“Uh, that’s a lost cause, do you feel me?” said Judon after bursting out laughing. “I want to keep it a hundred. Mac is a football player and that’s all. He’s a great guy and football player, but drop is not him, man. Let him do what he does, man. Do not change the guy. Let him do what he does, man. “
While Judon left plenty of room for Jones to improve in that department, the veteran pass rusher is impressed with what he has seen from rookie where it matters most.
“I’m just glad he’s our quarterback,” Judon said. “He’s out there playing and having a hell of a season, and I’m just glad he’s out there playing with us.”