Mac Jones had a relatively successful NFL debut Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He also took his lumps.
The New England Patriots rookie quarterback completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown despite being sacked once and taking nine QB hits. Brian Flores' aggressive Dolphins defense blitzed Jones on 60% of his dropbacks, but the 23-year-old hung in there to set a rookie record for completion percentage in an NFL debut.
Jones' resilience under pressure apparently earned him points with his teammates.
"I was really proud of him and how he handled it," Patriots tight end Hunter Henry told reporters Wednesday, as transcribed by NESN.com's Zack Cox. "He had a lot of poise and obviously delivered the ball really well, sat in there in the pocket even when the pocket was coming down.
"He made some big-time throws that sometimes a lot of other guys aren’t going to make, just standing in the pocket and taking hits and different things like that.
“That shows a lot to us as guys — a guy that’s going to stand in there no matter what and deliver the ball."
Center David Andrews also noted after Sunday's game that Jones displayed both mental and physical resolve in the 17-16 loss.
"We've got to do a better job protecting him at times, but I thought he really showed toughness standing in there and making some throws," Andrews said.
Indeed, the Patriots will need to shore up their pass blocking if they want Jones to be at his best throughout a 17-game season, which is four games longer than his 2020 campaign at Alabama. But one hallmark of a successful quarterback is earning the respect of his teammates, and it seems like Jones is already on good footing with the offensive group.
"He’s super selfless," Henry added. "Like, standing in those pockets and taking those shots and throwing the ball, it shows a lot to the linemen, to us, (to the) receivers. That’s big time. ... I’m excited to continue to work with him."
Jones and the Patriots offense should have easier sledding in Week 2 against the lowly New York Jets.