Patriots

Julian Edelman would give Mac Jones' rookie season this grade so far

Patriots

Mac Jones was one of five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he's been by far the best rookie at the position this season.

He won the starting job in the preseason and has started all 15 games the Patriots have played entering Sunday's Week 17 matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jones has been among the most accurate quarterbacks regardless of experience. His 67.2 completion percentage ranks ninth-best in the league. He's also thrown for 3,313 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Jones leads all rookie quarterbacks in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and QB rating.

It's been a solid rookie campaign for Jones overall, but he's struggled of late.

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The Alabama product gave arguably his worst performance as a pro in Sunday's Week 16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jones completed just 44 percent of his passes (14-of-32) for 145 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. New England fell behind in the first half and couldn't catch up, and Jones' struggles were a big part of that.

After back-to-back subpar performances, is it fair to say Jones has hit the dreaded rookie wall?

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Former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman had some interesting comments on that subject, including his grade for Jones through 15 games, during the latest episode of "Inside the NFL".

"I've got to give Mac a B+," Edelman said, as transcribed by Tyler Sullivan of CBS Sports. "These last two weeks, he could have been an A- if he continued that same play. We've seen him be a very efficient quarterback. You see him get through his progressions. You can see him drive a team down the field. But these last two weeks, you can tell that the rookie wall may have hit.

 

"The rookie wall is real. He's had two games with two picks back-to-back. It will be interesting to see how he goes forward and to see really what he's made of."

Patriots Talk Podcast: How can the Patriots pull out of their downward spiral? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

It wouldn't be surprising if Jones has hit a bit of a rookie wall. He's already played two more games with the Patriots than he did all of last season for Alabama. He's also playing regularly in cold, winter weather for the first time in his football career.

Luckily for Jones, he has a pretty favorable matchup Sunday against a Jaguars defense that's allowing the sixth-most points per game. Quarterbacks have completed a league-high 69.8 percent of their passes against Jacksonville's defense. The Jaguars roster also has been hit hard by COVID-19 this week.

Jones has enjoyed a successful rookie season. There's no doubt about that. But he needs to play a lot better than what we've seen from him over the last two games if the Patriots are going to be a legit contender in the AFC come playoff time.