The Patriots lost to the Dolphins, 17-16 on Sunday in a game that could have and should have been won. However, the biggest story of the day was the debut of rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who, despite the result, gave the Patriots many positive signs for the future. Jones completed 29/39 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown.
The New England offense started that day with a 35-yard run by Damien Harris and moved the ball down to the Miami 30-yard line before Jones took a sack and tossed the ball away behind him, an ill-advised fumble that was thankfully recovered by Jonnu Smith. The fumble took New England out of field goal range. A Rhamondre Stevenson fumble on the Patriots second drive was recovered by Miami with the Patriots offense sputtering.
Things settled down after that and the Patriots scored on two of their next three drives, first on a field goal and then on Jones’ first career touchdown pass. The pass was caught by Nelson Agholor and the teams went to halftime tied 10-10 after a Miami field goal.
The second half truly showed the promise of Jones, first with a deep left pass to Agholor, who was covered, for a big first down that eventually led to a field goal. The gem of the day was a 3rd and 11 pass to James White down the right sideline. The touch on that throw was excellent and Jones put the ball where only White could get it. If Jones can consistently do that he’ll be well on his way to being a great quarterback.
It was not all rosy, however. In addition to the bad fumble early, Jones missed a 3rd and 4 pass in the red zone in the fourth quarter, which forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal. Of all the throws Jones made, that is the one he’d best off having back. Had New England scored a touchdown there, or on the final drive that was ended by a Harris fumble, they likely come out of Sunday with a win. The good news is that the mistakes the Patriots made, turnovers and bad penalties, are correctable and shouldn’t continually cost them games.
Overall, Jones had a solid debut and gave the Patriots many reasons to believe that they made the right choice in April’s draft. It was not a perfect outing and Jones shouldn’t be compared to Tom Brady, but the signs point to the Patriots having a successful season if Jones can keep progressing and New England can curtail their mistakes from Sunday.