Patriots

Comparing Mac Jones' first start with Tom Brady's debut

Patriots

By and large, Mac Jones looked the part of a competent NFL quarterback in his debut Sunday despite a 17-16 loss for the New England Patriots.

The rookie completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor which at the time gave New England a 10-7 lead in the second quarter.

But it wasn't meant to be for Jones, who was betrayed by a pair of fumbles from Patriots running backs: one from fellow rookie Rhamondre Stevenson on the second drive of the game for New England's offense at its own 48-yard line, and another far more costly one from third-year back Damien Harris at the Miami 11-yard line with 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when the Patriots were down a point.

WATCH: Mac Jones throws first NFL touchdown pass

Jones was far from perfect -- he took a sack on his very first drop back -- but finished the game with a 102.6 passer rating, higher than either of the other rookie quarterbacks who started across the NFL this week.

In fact, in completing 74% of his passes, Jones delivered a historic debut performance.

How's that all stack up with Tom Brady's first NFL start nearly 20 years ago Sunday on Sept. 30, 2001 against the Indianapolis Colts?

For starters, Brady got the win. New England's defense returned two Peyton Manning interceptions for touchdowns in a 44-13 laugher in which Brady was more or less a sidecar, completing 13 of 23 passes for 168 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 79.6 passer rating. Antowain Smith rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns as well for New England.

 

While the game was Brady's first start, it came in his second year in the league. Brady had seen limited action his rookie year and stepped in for the injured Drew Bledsoe a week before his initial start; Sunday was the very first NFL game for Jones.

It's not as though Jones had a ton of time to prepare for being a starter, either, however; he wasn't officially named QB1 for the Patriots until 13 days before the season opener. 

Turning the page after a loss will be key for Jones, who draws the 0-1 New York Jets on the road in Week 2. Brady also went on the road in his second week as a starter and turned in a clunker, completing 12 of 24 passes for 86 yards in a 30-10 loss to the Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium.

It wouldn't be right to measure the success of Jones as a rookie to Brady in terms of winning the Super Bowl, but in terms of delivering serviceable quarterback play? That's fair game, and off to a promising start.