The New England Patriots, once the most feared franchise in the National Football League, stooped down to their worst performance in the last two decades, and it all came as a result of the departure of the heart and soul of the team- Tom Brady. The critically acclaimed ‘GOAT’ of American football, Brady had been the source of energy for the Patriots all the way since 1999, leading the side to nine Super Bowl appearances, winning six of them.
If not Tom Brady, then who? Cam Newton wasn’t the answer for Patriots
However, after Brady left the place he called home for twenty years and joined up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Patriots were on the lookout for a new quarterback to fill in the shoes of the iconic no 12, and the 2015 MVP Cam Newton was brought into the squad from the Carolina Panthers, with hopes of a promising future.
Unfortunately, the Patriots were hit with the worst performance they suffered since the 2000 season, starting off 2020 with a meagre 2–5 record. The lacklustre performance continued as they only managed an abysmal 7–9 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008, in the wake of their Week 15 defeat against the Miami Dolphins. To bet on NFL games every week, head over to betshah.
Newton, who arrived at the Gillette Stadium with hopes of becoming the next Tom Brady for Bill Belichick, failed to do so and the team decided to cut him off from the roster on 31st August, despite signing a one-year deal back in March. Instead of Newton, the Pats had their eye on the new kid on the block- Mac Jones.
Mac Jones- the brightest name in the NCAA
An Alabama Crimson Tide product, Mac Jones became the team’s starting quarterback for 2020, the same season when he proved his worth in the NCAA, becoming the new record holder in passer rating and completion percentage in 2020, as well as clinching the national championship.
Emerging as a potential future superstar in the NFL, Jones quickly grabbed the attention of the Patriots, who were again on the lookout for their next Brady, provided that Newton failed to fulfil that promise and on the same route, they picked Jones in the first round.
The youngster showed impeccable performance right from his nascent days with the team days while competing with his fellow Patriots QB Newton at the training camp. With the latter’s tenure coming to an end, Jones earned the spot of the starting quarterback for the six time champions.
A hopeful NFL debut for the records-setting rookie Mac Jones
The college football record holder wasted no time to prove his worth as a professional and right on his debut for the Pats against the Dolphins in the first week. Going head to head against his former Alabama teammates Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle, Jones converted 29 of his 39 passes, thus setting a new record for the highest completion percentage for an NFL rookie in his debut at 74.4, even though the Patriots suffered a narrow 16-17 defeat.
The week 2 clash against the New York Jets marked the first professional victory for Jones, converting 22 of 30 passes while clocking 186 yards. The 23-year-old completed 30 of 51 passes for 270 yards in their next showdown against the New Orleans Saints and impressed with a touchdown as well as three interceptions.
The benchmark battle: the now Tom Brady vs the next
After three out of three impressive performances, it was time for the much awaited encounter that the NFL fans were looking forward to, the Week 4 clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots.
While it marked the return of Tom Brady to the Gillete Stadium, now, as a record holding seven time Super Bowl champion, it was also going to set a benchmark for Jones on how he performs against the one he is destined to succeed with the Patriots shirt.
The match saw Jones going toe to toe against Brady. Along with two touchdowns and one interception, Jones completed 31 of 40 passes for 275 yards, with 19 of them being consecutive- another rookie record since 1991, as well as equalling the franchise record that was set by non other than Brady in 2015.
Does the shoe fit Mac Jones?
Even though the Patriots failed to contain their former hero once again as the Bucs scooped up a 19-17 win, the team might finally be getting the answer they have been seeking for more than a year.
There is no doubt that Mac Jones is showing a promising future. Sure, the 23-year-old needs time to settle in the big league, but he has been outstanding as a rookie and is highly probable to become a more reliable quarterback than Newton. Taking the place of Brady, who went down as the greatest player in the franchise and undoubtedly in the league, that will require a couple of seasons before we can finally address Jones as the Brady that Belichick is looking for, but the propitious quarterback can surely become the first ‘Mac Jones’ in the NFL, if not the ‘next Tom Brady’.