Patriots No. 15 overall first-round pick Mac Jones has been compared to Tom Brady by some of his most supportive proponents.
Others, maybe a bit more fair and realistic with their comparative expectations, have brought up such names as current Bears quarterback Andy Dalton or former Jets/Dolphins passer Chad Pennington when discussing Jones’ skill set and NFL potential.
Now that Jones is the presumed franchise quarterback in New England – even with Bill Belichick declaring on draft night that “Cam [Newton]'s our quarterback.” – HIS future is indeed THE future in Foxborough.
On the most recent Off Day Podcast, Ryan Hannable and I got into a discussion about the expectations that Jones faces in taking over the quarterback job in New England, whether that transition comes this season or not.
The reality is that Jones doesn’t really have to be Brady to be the man in middle of the Patriots passing game. As Belichick noted on draft night, to take over the starting job he “would have to play better than” Newton, the guy who threw just eight touchdown passes last fall for a seven-win team that failed to make the playoffs.
But while Jones is technically replacing Newton rather than Brady, the shadow of the GOAT’s incomparable accomplishments over the last two decades of the dynasty is massive.
So, what does Jones actually have to do to be considered a successful No. 15 overall pick for the Patriots?
Simply be better than Newton? Or earn the comparisons to Brady?
Depends on your perspective or who you ask.
One with fair, realistic expectations would probably say that if Jones reaches a second contract in New England -- meaning he’ll likely be in his sixth season under center at Gillette Stadium after playing out a rookie deal that would include a fifth-year option – that he’s brought stability to the most critical position and more than enough value from his draft slot. It would seemingly mean he’s locked down the job and probably has his team competing for playoff spots, at the very least, at that point in his career.
But others, emboldened by years of Brady dominance, have much higher, seemingly unfair, unrealistic expectations.
A Twitter poll sampling of more than 3,000 likely Patriots fans indicates that 60 percent believe Jones has to at least make it to a Super Bowl in order to be deemed a success and good pick by Belichick and his personnel department. Approximately one in three fans polled think Jones has to win a Super Bowl.
Only 40 percent of fans believe that earning a second contract is enough for Jones to claim success.
Jones declared on draft night that he wanted to be picked by the Patriots all along.
Given his time under Nick Saban at Alabama he’s clearly used to tough coaching and high expectations.
But jumping from college football’s modern dynasty to the NFL’s version of dominance, Jones is going to find that the expectations placed upon his future are sky high.
Fair or not, he’s embarking on his pro career trying to live up to the comparisons to and accomplishments of Brady.
Good luck, Mac!