The Debut of Mac Jones Had Everything Patriots Fans Wanted… Except for a Win
Ever since the New England Patriots took Mac Jones with their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, everybody was waiting for this moment. With the ever-critical eyes of an entire region laser-focused upon him, the debut of Mac Jones was everything Patriots fans wanted to see. There was the promised quick decision-making that everybody saw in the preseason. There was the quick progression resulting in short but productive dump-offs to running backs and pressure outlets. And most importantly, there was the arm that buoyed all the mental know-how. In short, the debut of Mac Jones was the type of debut that has many people thinking they are watching the Patriots’ next franchise quarterback.
But while Mac Jones did almost everything he could to bring the Patriots a win, he did not. And when it is all said and done, the only thing that matters in the NFL… the only thing that matters to Bill Belichick… is winning. Mac Jones fell short of the threshold. Therefore, even while passing both the eye test and the physical exam, Mac Jones failed. If you are a fan of the New England Patriots, that is the best scenario you could have hoped for.
The Influence of Cam Newton on the Debut of Mac Jones
If the Patriots won the debut of Mac Jones, it would have been a perfect debut. Almost all of the issues Patriots fans suffered through with Cam Newton at quarterback were gone (except for ball security, but at least this was not on the quarterback). But Mac Jones learned other things from Cam Newton. While Newton’s inability to throw a football probably made the outcome more likely, Newton was always ready to accept responsibility after a loss. He always said the right things, and, most importantly for a leader, he never blamed other players; he always talked about how he had to be better, how he had to improve.
There are those quarterbacks who only wish for the spotlight when things are good. When things are bad, they are nowhere to be found. Cam Newton adored the spotlight, but unlike many who revel in the bright lights, Newton knew he had to take the bad with the good. He stood tall, and even when his physical side failed him at quarterback, he never failed the mental side.
No matter how bad things got, Newton still showed the type of accountability needed to be a star quarterback in the NFL. He showed Mac Jones what it meant to be a leader. Even throughout the preseason, Cam Newton continued to do and say the right things, thus setting a great example for Jones for whenever Jones would take over. Turns out, that was sooner rather than later.
The Terribly Encouraging Debut of Mac Jones Featured the Terribly Encouraging First Post-Game Press Conference
So what did we see following the Patriots’ Week 1 loss against the Dolphins? Did we see a quarterback bemoaning his running backs fumbling the game away? Did Mac Jones appear salty that he put his team in a position to win only for both the offense and defense to come up short? No, not at all. If you listened to Mac Jones after the game you would have thought the debut of Mac Jones was a catastrophe.
Yes, a win would be better. To sit atop the AFC East after one game would make the debut of Mac Jones the perfect debut. But instead of getting to listen to how happy Mac Jones was with his debut, the Patriots lost, so there was no joy in the postgame press conference. All Jones could talk about was how he wanted to do better, the things where he felt he came up short. All Mac Jones wanted to do was talk about and answer the question, “where could he improve?” Turns out, according to Mac Jones, the answer was “quite a lot.”
An Early Answer to a Very Important Question
If you asked Patriots fans, “what do you want to see in the debut of Mac Jones,” they would have listed almost everything that happened in Week 1. The only difference between the fantasy answer and reality was “a win.” But for those long-term planners, one of the most pressing questions concerning Mac Jones was, “how would he respond after adversity?” This was a quarterback that dominated college football last year. Then he joined the Patriots and things appeared to come easily to him, including winning the starting role. So this question of, “how does Mac Jones respond to adversity” is a relatively important one.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Patriots fans are going to get that answer real quick. We got an important piece of the puzzle in the post-game press conference, “how does Mac Jones react off the field after tough losses?” The NFL now knows the answer is, “like a champ.” The second part of the answer will come on Sunday against the New York Jets, “how will Mac Jones respond on the field.” From what we’ve seen thus far after the debut of Mac Jones, the odds are the answer is still… “like a champ.” No matter what, we will know by 4:30 P.M. Sunday.