Mac Jones might be ready for a postseason run, but his Patriots playmakers probably aren’t


In little more than a week Patriots QB Mac Jones will embark on his first NFL postseason, the relatively rare rookie passer to lead his team into the playoffs.

After an impressive regular season as a top NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, Jones will hope to be the even rarer rookie QB to lead to team to a postseason win, a past list that included the likes of future Super Bowl winners Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger.

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Heck, some in Patriot Nation are dreaming that Jones might just do the unprecedented but not necessarily unthinkable and guide his squad to the Super Bowl as a rookie, less than a year after securing a national title in his one season as a starter at Alabama.

While Jones has never been there or done that in the postseason, so to speak, it’s not hard to envision the impressive rookie holding up his portion of the playoff bargain for Bill Belichick’s team. Heck, for basically two years dating back to his time in Tuscaloosa, Jones has answered and overcome every challenge thrown his way. That’s why he’s in this spot.

But while Jones will be somewhat deservedly the focal point of the attention on the Patriots heading into New England’s return to playoff play after a one-year hiatus, winning in January is more than just about the quarterback. That might just be the problem for the Patriots.

Sure, Jones will have to prove his mettle if a New England team that’s been less than dominant against playoff-caliber foes in the regular season is going to avoid a one-and-done postseason.

But how about Jones’ supporting cast on offense? Are those guys ready for the spotlight that’s a bit brighter and a pressure that’s a bit heftier come January?

Looking across the AFC and NFL as a whole, every other playoff-bound QB will hit the postseason with a true star to help carry the load.

Patrick Mahomes has Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.

Josh Allen rightfully leans on Stefon Diggs in Buffalo.

Joe Burrow can force defenses to pick their poison for the upstart Bengals.

When in doubt Ryan Tannehill can turn to A.J. Brown for the Titans, while Derrick Henry is returning from injury for his own postseason run.

How about the NFC? Obviously Aaron Rodgers has a connection with Davante Adams that’s elite.

Tom Brady may not have Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, but Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans are ready to try to defend their Super Bowl title.

Matthew Stafford certainly seems to enjoy his newfound postseason life in L.A. alongside Cooper Kupp and even OBJ.

The NFL is an offensive business. So it’s no surprise that virtually all of the playoff teams and supposed Super Bowl contenders pair a proven passer or rising star QB with a Pro Bowl-caliber playmaker.

Except one.

Jones has the unenviable task of trying to win in the postseason as a rookie with essentially no go-to playmakers to turn to.

Sure Jakobi Meyers is a solid complimentary receiver.
Hunter Henry is efficient in the red zone. Kendrick Bourne can make an occasional big play.

But none is the kind of my-guy-will-beat-your-guy player that makes life easier and generally more successful for a quarterback in January.

Recall when Tom Brady would find himself in a tough spot in past Patriots postseason runs? He would turn to Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski and opposing defenses for the Chiefs or Rams, for example, would be almost helpless to stop it.

Stars win in the postseason. Certainly that starts at the quarterback position. But those star QBs also need star playmakers to help them do their job.

And virtually every other playoff bound passer has that guy to turn to this winter except for Jones.

His favorite receiver, as Brady used to proclaim somewhat disingenuously, will actually have to be the open guy. He’ll have to read the defense and find a good matchup every time he drops back to pass in the playoffs, without the luxury of a go-to, game-changing option like pretty much all of his competition.

Is Mac Jones ready and equipped to win in his first NFL postseason? Probably.

Are Jones’ supporting weapons and playmakers ready to win? If we’re being honest, probably not.

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