ESPN stats guru Bill Barnwell identified exactly what’s wrong with Mac Jones


Most quarterbacks see the field better in their second season than rookie campaigns. But that’s not the case with Mac Jones.

The numbers back it up.

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ESPN NFL stats guru Bill Barnwell performed a deep dive on the widespread struggles of this year’s sophomore QB class, including Jones. The Alabama standout is faring worse in every major statistical category than last season, with turnovers at the top of the list. As a rookie, Jones threw interceptions on just 2.5 percent of his pass attempts. This year, he’s thrown picks on 5.1 percent of his throws — the highest in the league.

There are a myriad of possibilities for Jones’ underperformance: struggling to adjust to Matt Patricia’s scheme; not gelling with DeVante Parker; his high-ankle sprain. But one number, Jones’ QBR on quick throws, shows exactly what’s wrong.

Last season, Jones’ QBR on quick passes — defined as throws within 2.5 seconds of snapping the ball — was 64.8. His 77.4 percent completion rate on those passes was fifth in the NFL, behind just Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.

Those numbers have come crashing down through the first half of 2022. Jones’ 16.8 QBR in the quick game ranks last in the league, and he’s averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt on those throws.

Barnwell adds that Jones’ struggles in the play-action game are confounding his problems.

“It's fair to wonder how much of this is the move to Matt Patricia's offense, given that the former Lions coach shifted toward more zone-based runs, which changes the play-action approach,” writes Barnwell. “For some quarterbacks, the game slows down in Year 2. Right now, it looks like the opposite has happened for Jones.”

Jones’ bad performance against the Jets shows he’s still trying to figure it all out.

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