Saturday night against the Colts was not Mac Jones’ finest performance. In fact, it wasn’t good at all, especially in the first half.
But, he was still the best quarterback on the field. Despite a rough night at the office, Jones was still better than Carson Wentz.
The rookie finished the game 26-for-45 passing with 299 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while the Colts only trusted Wentz enough to attempt 12 passes (only five completions). Even with just 12 pass attempts, the veteran nearly allowed the Patriots to come back from a 20-point deficit with some very poor throws, which included one interception.
It’s becoming more and more clear the AFC is wide open and any of the seven teams that make the playoffs have a chance of getting hot at the right time and making the Super Bowl.
These games very well could be decided with which team makes the fewest mistakes, and the Patriots, led by Jones, should feel very good about where they are at.
Jones has thrown 10 interceptions this season, but just three since Week 9, and two of those came Saturday against the Colts. Yes, both interceptions were bad throws and decisions, but it should also be noted how much the offensive line struggled in that game. If the line was better and the rookie felt comfortable in the pocket, maybe those throws aren’t made.
As it relates to the rest of the AFC, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert have all thrown more interceptions than Jones this season and all figure to be playing in the postseason.
Sure, the Jones and the Patriots do not throw as much as some of those teams, but the team numbers say the same thing.
The Patriots have 18 giveaways on the season, which is 18th in the league. In terms of potential playoff teams in the AFC, only the Chargers, Steelers and Browns have fewer. And when it comes to turnover differential, the Patriots are second in the conference at plus-nine. Only the Colts are better at plus-14.
While Jones may not be able to win a game on his own just yet, all season long he’s shown he won’t lose a game on his own, either.
Saturday night also showed Jones has what it takes to overcome some adversity within a game, which a lot of people wanted to see before the end of the season. After trailing 17-0 at the half and 20-0 early in the third quarter, Jones didn't pout. In fact, he stepped up his play in the second half, which included going 11-for-22 passing with 154 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Although it’s not ideal and a situation the Patriots want to put themselves in, the rookie showed he can lead a comeback if necessary.
If things continue to play out the way they have all year, the AFC playoffs will come down to the teams that makes the fewest mistakes and with Jones under center, the Patriots should feel pretty good about their chances.
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