Mac Jones impresses in NFL preseason debut for Patriots

The Patriots won in more ways than one on Thursday night.

New England came out on top in its preseason opener over the Washington Football Team, 22-13, in Foxborough.

But it was the performance of its newest quarterback that was more impressive than the win. 

Mac Jones, the rookie out of Alabama, finished the night 13-for-19 passing for 87 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, which amounted to a 78.2 passer rating. 

The praise was effusive for Jones on social media, with many agreeing that a real quarterback competition is brewing in New England. 

Jones didn’t get the start on the evening. That was reserved for Cam Newton, who became the Patriots’ leading man last season, New England’s first without Tom Brady at the helm in two decades. 

Newton completed four of seven passes on the night, finishing with 47 yards through the air, only playing two series. 

Jones entered the game at the end of the first quarter, and though his numbers don’t jump off the page, he made an impression with several nice throws. 

On “First Things First,” Eric Mangini said that Jones is clearly the fan-favorite – he received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he entered the game – and that he can play earlier this season.

“A lot of times when rookie quarterbacks go in they almost look like they’re over-caffeinated,” Mangini said. “And he didn’t. He looked calm. He looked like he had good control over what they’re doing. I thought that the most telling thing was in the hurry-up or no-huddle offense that they went with at the start of the second half and the way he operated that.”

Eric Mangini breaks down Mac Jones’ NFL debut and explains why he could potentially play earlier than expected.

But some advised not to get too excited about the results of one preseason game. LaVar Arrington stressed that the job remains Newton’s and Jones’ limited playing time is proof of that.

“Cam is the undisputed leader of this team – that’s what I took away from it – and the rookie was just getting his reps,” Arrington said. “Five series means that he’s not competing for the starting job.”

And on “Undisputed,” Shannon Sharpe offered an approach that gave credence to the arguments of both Mangini AND Arrington.

“He looked good, but nothing changed for me last night,” Sharpe said. “Mac wasn’t asked to do a whole lot. … When you go 13-of-19 and throw for less than 100 yards, it’s telling me that you’re checking the ball down. … They didn’t ask him to throw the ball down the field, they didn’t ask him to put the ball in harm’s way. … I don’t think Mac Jones did enough to overtake Cam Newton.”

Check out how the Twitter-sphere responded to Jones’ evening:

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