“Just win, baby!”
It’s the ultimate NFL advice from late NFL legendary Raiders coach and owner Al Davis.
And it’s as fitting for Mac Jones and the Patriots today as it was when the Brockton-born Davis first uttered it many decades ago as both a personal and organization mantra in the cut-throat world of professional football.
As Jones heads into a Week 2 battle with another former Alabama QB teammate and the upstart Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, winning is all that matters. As much now as ever. Maybe more than ever.
Jones is coming off an inconsistent opener to open a third professional season of what has already been an inconsistent career for the former No. 15 overall pick. He set career highs against the Eagles last Sunday evening with 35 completions on 54 attempts in his first game working under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. He tied his career-best with three touchdown passes and topped 300 yards for just the fifth time in 32 career regular season starts.
Sounds like a pretty good game, right? And it kinda was.
But it was also a loss to the defending NFC Champions, dropping Jones’ career record as a regular season starter to an appropriately mediocre 16-16 in two-plus seasons.
What’s worse is that not only did Jones very much contribute to the losing effort, he was helpless to avoid it when given multiple chances to alter the eventual frustrating outcome.
Sure his first-quarter pick-6 interception to Philly playmaker Darius Slay ended up being the difference in terms of points in the 25-20 loss, a ball that was behind Kendrick Bourne and deflected off his hands in the wet conditions. It was a losing play all the way around, right through Jones’ lackluster tackle attempt on Slay as the defensive back streaked toward the end zone.
But what also happened was that New England hung in against the Eagles, a supposedly far more talented and superior foe, for 60 minutes.
It was a winnable game throughout. Certainly within striking distance of a season-altering upset when Jones’ defense got he and his offensive teammates the ball back twice in the final 3:28 trailing by just five points.
Twice Jones and the Patriots turned the ball over on downs.
It was another hard-fought loss, of which there have been many over the last couple years under Jones’ direction.
It was another game in which Jones, the for-now franchise QB in Foxborough, and his Patriots weren’t awful but also weren’t good enough.
Another Moral Victory Monday in New England that’s not quite worthy of classic “Awwwww Yeah!” excitement.
Bill Belichick has said in one former or another over the years that a quarterback’s job in the NFL is to lead his team to victory. To move the ball and score points as necessary to get the job done.
And that’s the challenge that Jones continues to face. To prove that he can actually lead his team to victory. That he can make the plays that are necessary when the game is on the line to get his job done.
There is no shame in being a .500 quarterback in the NFL.
Heck, rising star Trevor Lawrence would love to be .500, a mark that is still nine wins ahead of him as he charts a contemporary career journey with Jones as fellow 2021 draft picks.
There is no shame is being able to put up impressive numbers on occasion, as Jones did against Philly, especially when he completed 11 straight throws on consecutive second quarter scoring drives against the Eagles in what might have been the most impressive short stretch of play in his young career.
That’s all great. Fine and dandy even. But this is still New England, right? Stat here are still for losers, right?
Sooner rather than later Jones must actually win a game for his team against a quality opponent. Lead the way to victory.
He’ll have another potential shot to do that Sunday night at Gillette Stadium against ol’ competitive pal Tua Tagovailoa and the 1-0 Dolphins.
Just win, baby!
Or if Mac Jones doesn’t want to take advice from the late Raider’ boss, there are plenty of other advisors to turn to during the early stages of this critical season in his still-young career.
Maybe Nike’s famed slogan? “Just do it.”
Or, maybe Mac is more of a Yoda guy? “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Or, back to football, there’s the age-old assessment from UCLA football coach Henry Russell Sanders (who knew?) that was parroted by Vince Lombardi. “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Just win, Mac! Just win.
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