The reviews of Mac Jones' first NFL start have been mostly positive. Emphasis on the term "mostly."
Despite the Patriots' 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, New England's rookie quarterback showcased impressive decision-making, poise and accuracy, completing 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. Aside from a few mistakes, Jones looked very comfortable operating the Patriots' offense against a talented Dolphins defense.
Pretty impressive for a 23-year-old kid making his NFL debut, right? Not if you ask former NFL safety T.J. Ward, who tweeted his opinion of Jones late in the third quarter of Sunday's game.
Ward's angle is that Jones only looked good because he was making easy throws, and that his "quick" decision-making was mostly a product of settling for short passes.
Ironically, Ward's tweet came not too long after one of Jones' most difficult throws of the day, a perfect rainbow to running back James White on a wheel route for 26 yards.
Jones did throw short a good amount Sunday, as 22 of his 29 completions went for fewer than 10 yards. But the Alabama product also completed four passes over 20 yards -- one more than Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and tied for 10th-most in the NFL in Week 1.
That's an impressive stat for a rookie QB who wasn't expected to be the Patriots' starter less than a month ago. While Jones probably won't set passing yards records in his first season, he's already showing signs that he can push the ball downfield and be more than just a "dink-and-dunk" quarterback for New England.
Patriots fans don't have fond memories of Ward after his 2013 hit on Rob Gronkowski that tore the tight end's ACL, and his assessment of Jones probably won't help his cause in New England.