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Welcome to New England, Mac Jones.
The Patriots’ first-round pick took the field in front of the home crowd for the first time as New England opened the preseason against the Washington Football Team with a 22-13 victory.
Even before taking a single snap, Jones, who replaced starter Cam Newton late in the first quarter, was embraced by the fans at Gillette Stadium.
He certainly didn’t let them down. Even in limited action, Jones flashed the type of potential that made him the 15th pick in the spring. Meanwhile, the Patriots got three field goals from Quinn Nordin—including a 50-yarder—to go with two fourth-quarter touchdowns from running back Rhamondre Stevenson to lock up the win.
Washington’s Lamar Miller and Peyton Barber accounted for WFT’s two touchdowns.
Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots: 13-of-19, 87 yards, one sack, 78.2 rating
Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots: 4-of-7, 49 yards, 78.9 rating
Taylor Heinicke, QB, Washington Football Team: 9-of-15, 86 yards, 76 rating
Peyton Barber, RB, Washington Football Team: six carries, 20 yards, one touchdown
Mac Jones Shines In Debut
It’s not often a first-string quarterback serves as the warm-up act, but that was the role Newton found himself in on Thursday night As much as the starting job is his to lose, the biggest reason for intrigue in the preseason opener was the play of Jones.
A year after Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones—the 2021 No. 15 pick out of Alabama—appears to be the quarterback of the future in Foxborough. If Thursday was any indication, the future might be closer than many imagined.
Jones played five series, continually spread the ball across the field and could’ve had at least one touchdown if not for a drop in the end zone. But it wasn’t the amount of completions Jones finished with that impressed, so much as his accuracy and touch in getting the ball to the exact spots he wanted.
Granted, it’s the first preseason game and no one who has a guaranteed roster spot is looking to go full throttle just yet, but it’s hard not to get excited by Jones’ potential. Certainly that was the case for Patriots fans, many of whom headed for the exits after Jones was replaced by Brian Hoyer in the third quarter.
Jones did get to lead the first series after halftime and used 13 plays to go 53 yards in 5:12 before stalling out at the Washington 22-yard line. The drive ended with a field goal.
As far as first impressions go, the rookie showed there’s little reason for the hype to slow down anytime soon.
Chase Young Makes Big Impact In Little Time
In just a few snaps on Thursday, Washington defensive end Chase Young proved he’s more than ready to follow up his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. In fact, he may have announced his candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year instead.
Young came out ready to attack with Newton taking the brunt of his efforts. The Ohio State product burst off the line of scrimmage in the first quarter, promptly pushed his way through single coverage and took down Newton in the backfield, though it wasn’t a sack since the QB was ruled to have released the ball before Young got to him.
“We don’t look at it as preseason, man,” Young told the NFL Network broadcast after he came out of the game. “I knew I wasn’t going to get much time, so I thought it was good practice for me to start early. … I felt good about what we did.”
Nicki Jhabvala @NickiJhabvala
Chase Young talking to @MikeSilver on the sideline about Cam Newton: “Hey, that boy is very big. He’s very big. But the goal was to get the ball out, and it came out.”
(Newton released the ball just before Young got to him, so it was a QB hit for Young & inc. pass for Newton.)
The hit on Newton was far from the only remarkable progress Young displayed on Thursday. The sophomore also ended Newton’s night by drawing a holding call on tight end Jonnu Smith on third down, forcing the Patriots to kick a field goal and derailing a nice-looking drive by New England.
Young entered training camp with the fourth-best odds to win Defensive Player of the Year, with DraftKings Sportsbook listing him at +850 (bet $100 to win $850). Only T.J. Watt (+800), Myles Garrett (+500) and Aaron Donald (+500) held better odds.
That may look like a value play by the time the regular season rolls around.
Young only needed a few plays in the first quarter to show why.
WFT will take on the Cincinnati Bengals for its second preseason game on Friday, Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. ET at FedEx Field. The Patriots will be back in action on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to Lincoln Financial Field for a dress rehearsal against the Philadelphia Eagles.