The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Hey, New England: Roll, Tide!

Posted on | September 21, 2021 | Comments Off on Hey, New England: Roll, Tide!

When the New England Patriots drafted Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, I decided to become a Patriots fan, but after Sunday’s game — when Jones led New England to a 25-6 victory over the New York Jets — I’m thinking y’all New Englanders should become Alabama fans.

Jones isn’t the only Crimson Tide player on the Patriots roster. There’s also running back Damien Harris, defensive tackle Christian Barmore, and linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Dont’a Hightower.

During Sunday’s victory, Jones completed 22 of 30 passes for 186 yards and zero interceptions — a stark contrast to Jets QB Zack Wilson, who threw four interceptions. Like Jones, Wilson is a rookie (out of BYU) who was a first-round draft pick. The Jets had the second pick in the draft, and Jones didn’t go until the 15th pick, meaning there are 14 other teams out there who passed him over. So he beat one of them Sunday, on his long campaign of vindication, and made Jets fans feel the pain:

Jones was everything the Jets wanted — and needed — Wilson to be on this day. He was poised and played essentially mistake-free in that he didn’t turn the ball over while Wilson gave it away four times on interceptions — two of which came on his first two throws in the game.
After the game, Jets coach Robert Saleh delivered the most telling and appropriate quote of the day when he said he told Wilson, “Sometimes, it’s OK to be boring.’’
Because you know what Jones was?
He was boring but efficient, completing 22 of 30 passes for 186 yards. Most importantly, though, Jones didn’t throw an interception or lose a fumble.
That’s the most important ingredient to winning in the NFL: Don’t beat yourself.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made a career out of forcing opposing teams into making mistakes and making them pay for them.
The two most memorable plays Jones made in the game, in fact, had nothing to do with him throwing the ball.
One came on New England running back Damien Harris’ 26-yard scoring run, on which he broke seven tackles and by the time he got near the goal line the entire Patriots offense was pushing him over the threshold — including the rookie quarterback who’d sprinted the 30 yards down the field to get into the fray.
Another came on an end-around by Kendrick Bourne when Jones threw a nice roll block on Jets defensive lineman Shaq Lawson, taking him to the ground.

Let’s see both of those plays on video:

Alabama: Where our quarterback blocks your defensive end.

Mac Jones is a team player. He waited three years for his shot at the starting QB job at Alabama, as backup first to Jalen Hurts (now with the Philadelphia Eagles) and then to Tua Tagovailoa (now with the Miami Dolphins, who beat New England in the season opener). He listens to his coaches, which is why he wasn’t throwing bombs Sunday. Apparently the game plan was for Mac to concentrate on completing short passes; his longest pass of the game was a picture-perfect strike down the middle.

The guy who caught that pass is Hunter Henry, a tight end from Arkansas who got picked up by the Patriots after four seasons with the Chargers. Henry was one of seven different receivers Jones connected with Sunday. His favorite target was veteran running back James White, whom he hit six times, including a 28-yarder. And then there was this razzle-dazzle:

Sweet! There were two negatives about Sunday’s game: First, Jones didn’t throw for a touchdown, and second, he got sacked three times. The sacks worry me most, because the one thing that could stop Jones from developing into — dare I say it? — the next Tom Brady is an injury. The Patriots’ offensive line needs to do a better job protecting their QB. Fortunately, Mac wasn’t hurt Sunday, so next up is a home game against New Orleans and then — well, it’s gonna be the next Tom Brady vs. the original Tom Brady when the Patriots play Tampa Bay on Oct. 3.



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