Patriots

Chargers coach identifies why Mac Jones has been so successful as rookie

Patriots

Mac Jones has been the best rookie quarterback in the NFL through the first seven weeks of the 2021 NFL season, and he's received plenty of praise from opposing players and coaches since making his debut for the New England Patriots.

The steady stream of praise continued Thursday when Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley identified a few specific abilities that have helped Jones enjoy so much success early in his pro career.

"I see a guy that's an outstanding decision-maker," Staley told reporters.Β "I think his processing is at a premium for a young quarterback; you can really see that he can see the game. I know the way they play on offense, they ask a lot of that position. You can tell that he can process at a high level because of the type of plays they're running. They're running a lot of premium-type offensive plays that you would think a more experienced quarterback would have.

"He has that kind of command over their system, and I think he has really good anticipation as a thrower. I think that's a big asset of him just as a pure passer --Β he has great anticipation and his ball placement is outstanding. He's got real toughness for the position. You can see when he's in tight pockets that he's willing to hang tough and play the way you're supposed to play."

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Jones is coming off his best game with the Patriots. He completed 24 of 36 pass attempts for a career-high 307 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 54-13 win over the rival New York Jets in Week 7.

His 70.7 completion percentage on the season ranks No. 4 among all quarterbacks and his 1,779 passing yards is the ninth-most at the position.Β 

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Sunday's Week 8 matchup at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles could turn into a shootout. The Chargers have an explosive offense, headlined by 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year winner Justin Herbert, who's one of the league's best young quarterbacks. Los Angeles already has beaten two AFC contenders in the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.

The Patriots have six more games until a Week 14 bye. During that span they play several quality opponents, including the Chargers, Browns, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. If the Patriots are going to make the playoffs, they'll need to have a winning record over this critical stretch.

Jones' play will be the most important factor in whether the Patriots enter the bye as one of the playoff contenders in the AFC.