Sunday afternoon was looking like one of Mac Jones’ better games... until it wasn’t.
Jones connected on several deep balls to DeVante Parker, scrambled to keep plays alive, and led the Patriots on three straight scoring drives wrapped around halftime to give New England a 20-14 lead.
But then Jones made a couple costly mistakes down the stretch that opened the door for the Ravens to take the lead for good. An interception on a throw over the middle led to a Baltimore field goal that put the Patriots in an 11-point hole. Then another on a prayer into the endzone cost the Patriots a chance at a field goal.
Making his weekly appearance on The Greg Hill Show on Monday, CBS analyst and WFAN host Boomer Esiason highlighted this dichotomy in Jones’ play right now, pointing out that there’s a lot to like, but just too many mistakes that he can’t afford to make.
“I know a loss is a loss, and there were two really bad decisions that Mac Jones had, but I’m sitting there and I’m watching the game and I’m saying to Coach Cowher, ‘This may be the best game I’ve ever seen Mac Jones play,’” Esiason said.
“I mean, he looked like he was a dual threat. He ran the ball effectively. I thought he was throwing the ball really good, the best I’ve seen him throw it. And then of course he has two really bad interceptions, and those decisions are ultimately what cost the team the game. And then because they’re playing from behind, it ultimately costs them what looks like at least a three-to-four-week injury. I don’t know how he’s gonna be able to play this coming week.”
While it might be tempting to chalk up Jones’ mistakes as necessary growing pains for a young quarterback, Esiason dished out some tougher love, saying that reasoning doesn’t fly as much in Year 2.
“He’s not a rookie anymore, and he should know better,” Esiason said. “He’s smart, he studies, first guy in, last guy out, all of those good things that you want. I would imagine that if you compare to the incomparable Tom Brady, Tom Brady very rarely ever did that. Very rarely in the body of a game did he make a colossal mistake that he couldn’t overcome.
“So you have to remember what we’re all used to watching when TB12 used to be with the Patriots. He was methodical, he was accurate, and his decision-making was probably at a 98% clip. It seemed like yesterday, the two decisions Mac made that led to those two interceptions were the bad ones. When Lamar Jackson’s doing what he’s doing and playing football at a different level than everybody else at the moment, you’re gonna end up losing the game.”
Jones finished Sunday’s game 22-of-32 passing for 321 yards and three interceptions. He also ran for 31 yards and a touchdown. Of course, all eyes now are on his injured ankle and how much time he might miss.