Despite taking the loss, Mac Jones was impressive in his NFL debut. Perhaps the most eye-opening trait he possessed during Sunday's game vs. the Miami Dolphins was his toughness.
Miami put constant pressure on Jones, who took 11 hits on his 44 dropbacks (including penalties). The 2021 first-round draft pick went 9-for-13 when under pressure for 96 yards and was drilled by Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts immediately after notching his first career touchdown pass.
Jones' toughness didn't go unnoticed in the Patriots locker room.
"I was really proud of him and how he handled it," Patriots tight end Hunter Henry told reporters Wednesday. "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."
On a brand new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Matt Cassel discussed his thoughts on Jones' toughness factor with Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry.
"He did take a lot of punishment. He was getting hit a lot," Cassel said. "I love the fact that he just kept coming back for more, kept making throws under duress, under pressure. That's a great sign for this team that he can take a hit and he's not rattled by it. His composure was incredible."
While Jones' ability to take hits was encouraging, Cassel hopes the Patriots will do a better job of protecting their QB going forward.
"You don't want Mac Jones taking hits like that consistently throughout the year," he said. "I think that a lot of teams are going to challenge him continuously to pressure him, to see if he'll continue to make those plays under duress.
"The best thing that they can do, and Mac Jones himself, is go out and continue to make plays when they do pressure him because it'll stop it. Because big plays usually happen when they do pressure, and if he can recognize it, that'll help him. But I don't want to see him get hit a lot. Nobody wants to see their quarterbacks get hit a lot because it's a long season and that starts to wear on you."
Also discussed in this episode: Has Cassel ever winked at a defensive player? Who is set up for a better NFL career, Jones or Zach Wilson? How can the Patriots’ offense exploit the Jets’ defense? And which AFC East QB will have the longest NFL career?