Patriots

Ex-NFL player makes case for Mac Jones as Offensive Rookie of the Year

Patriots

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was well on his way to winning the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award entering Week 17, and then Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase made it a race again with a historic performance.

Chase tallied 11 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns as the Bengals upset the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday to secure the AFC North title and a playoff berth. The former LSU star has 79 receptions through 16 games, while also ranking fourth among all wide receivers with 1,429 receiving yards and second with 13 touchdowns.

He's also overtaken Jones in the betting odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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Not everyone is ready to say this race is over, though. Former NFL player and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky still thinks Jones should win the award, and he explained why on Monday's episode of "First Take".

"It's still Mac Jones. ... He's played better than I anticipated him playing," Orlovsky said. "Now, what Ja'Marr Chase has done has been obnoxious, and (his performance Sunday) was absolutely outrageous. But I think the body of work by Mac Jones, taking over that football team and getting better and better. (He has) 21 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, a QBR over 95, over 3,500 passing yards on an offense that is run-dominant and doesn't have a difference-maker as a weapon. There are some good pieces, but a difference-maker?

 

"I think because of the performance over the course of the season -- we've seen two poor performances from Mac Jones. Because of that, I say he's the rookie of the year. The guy that touches the ball every single play. He's very rarely hurt his football team. They've asked a lot of (Jones). Ja'Marr has been spectacular -- I was wrong about who Cincinnati should've drafted -- but Mac Jones is the rookie of the year."

Check out the full segment from "First Take" in the video below:

Jones has been the best rookie quarterback in the league by far. He's enjoyed a tremendous 2021 campaign in leading the Patriots back to the playoffs and giving them real hope for the future.

But it's hard to dismiss Chase's incredible stats and the impact he's made for a Bengals offense that ranks among the league's best. He's been the most outstanding rookie this season, and it would be surprising if the Week 18 results changed that.