Mac Jones Is Channeling Chargers Star Justin Herbert as He Quietly Prepares the Patriots for an Unexpected Playoff Run

Mac Jones, a Week 8 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is on his way to becoming a key player for the team. He has been praised from pundits and fans alike for being one of the best deep-ball throwers in college football history. The Chargers have given him an opportunity at playing time as he transitions into professional football after struggling through injuries with Stanford last season.

Patriots QB Mac Jones had a breakout game last week against the Jets, completing 18 of 29 passes for 227 yards. His success continued into this weekend’s matchup with the Chargers before he left in the third quarter with apparent injury to his throwing arm.The “herbert chargers” is a new quarterback that the Chargers have drafted. He has been compared to Justin Herbert, who was recently drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.

Highlights of the article:

  • Mac Jones of the New England Patriots has statistics that are comparable to Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • Even when he isn’t torching defenders, Jones is winning games.
  • If their rookie quarterback keeps things up, the Patriots will be back in the playoffs.

When Mac Jones first came with the New England Patriots earlier this year, supporters hoped for two things. They clearly expected him to win games and return the six-time Super Bowl champs to the playoffs.

Jones still has a long way to go before he can make headway on the second goal, which is to establish himself as a viable long-term alternative for Tom Brady. When it comes to the first assignment, the Alabama product is imitating Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

Mac Jones and Justin Herbert are enjoying comparable seasons, according to advanced analytics.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (L) and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in 2021. Mac Jones (L) of the New England Patriots imitates Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jones’ overall stats are lackluster in an age when players like Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott and Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray have carved through defenses as rookies. Through the first eight games of the season, he completed 68.1 percent of his throws for 1,996 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions.

That’s a 4,242-yard, 19-touchdown pace over the course of the 17-game season. The Patriots will take those figures with a grain of salt, particularly since Cam Newton’s offense failed to generate scores last season. With Jones as quarterback, the Patriots are averaging five more points per game.

Jones does not seem to be an outstanding quarterback with low stats due to subpar weapons, according to sophisticated analytics. Jones only had 11 completions of 20 yards or more in the air and averaged 7.1 yards per attempt over the first eight weeks of the season, according to The Athletic. Those aren’t excellent figures, particularly in today’s pass-happy NFL.

But here’s where things start to get interesting. Herbert has equal stats in all categories, having won four of his first five outings until a recent losing skid. The difference is that during the first two months of the season, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year completed 63.7 percent of his throws for 1,994 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions, albeit in seven games versus Jones’ eight.

Even though he isn’t lighting up the stat sheet, Jones is making steady improvement as a rookie.

Jones’ penchant for dink-and-dunks and check-downs will be an easy target for criticism. He doesn’t throw many deep throws, and the Patriots have no need to alter that right now.

What counts is that Jones has led the Patriots from a 1-3 start to a 4-4 record heading into Week 9. Two of the four defeats, including the Week 4 home game against Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, came down to the last minute or overtime. A third defeat came in Week 1 against Tua Tagovailoa and the already 1-7 Miami Dolphins, when Patriots running back Damien Harris fumbled with less than four minutes remaining at the Dolphins’ 9-yard line.

On the one hand, you might say that the Patriots are 4-4 because they swept the Jets and held off the hapless Texans. But that’s exactly what organizations are looking for in a rookie quarterback. Franchises want their young quarterbacks to win the games that are winnable and compete against superior teams, as he did against the Chargers.

In a 27-24 win against the Chargers, Jones completed 18 of his 35 pass attempts and did not throw the ball over. What makes you think the Patriots would want anything different? On offensively, he moved the ball well and did enough to ensure that his defense’s excellent play was not squandered.

Jones held his own in tight defeats to Brady’s Buccaneers and Prescott’s Dallas Cowboys, two of the NFC’s best teams, before stunning Herbert and the Chargers.

If Jones maintains his current form, the Patriots will be in the playoffs.

Mac Jones (84.0) has ZERO turnover-worthy plays for the third straight game, according to @PFF. Yesterday, his ADOT was 9.2, the highest in his career. Jones is now the year’s QB13. #Patriots

November 1, 2021 — Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan Spags)

Jones and the Patriots would be the last team standing if the NFL Playoffs started today. The Patriots face the unreliable Carolina Panthers, the injury-plagued Cleveland Browns, and the rebuilding Atlanta Falcons in three games. The Patriots also hold a tiebreaker against Herbert and the Chargers, who would be the AFC’s seventh and final seed right now.

A crucial five-week period starting in late November will be crucial for the Patriots. Jones and the Patriots not only face the Buffalo Bills twice, but they also face the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts. With some assistance from other teams, the Patriots could easily sneak into the playoffs with a 5-4 record.

Whether it’s fair or not, Jones is responsible for the Patriots’ postseason aspirations. The Patriots should return to the playoffs if he maintains his current form and reduces his turnovers. Jones would then join Brady in a key category: making the playoffs in their debut season as a starter.

What happened to Brady as a result of that? If history repeats itself, football fans will have even more reason to despise the Patriots.

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