Callahan: Why this change in Mac Jones’ game could spur an upset of the Cowboys

FOXBORO — You bear in mind Mac Jones’ longest cross of the season.

The 58-yard landing he slung down the suitable seam to tight finish Pharaoh Brown final Sunday towards the Jets; a splash of offensive brilliance in a sea of rain and defensive distress.

But what concerning the play earlier than?

Do you bear in mind Jones getting ripped to the bottom? How Jets defensive deal with Quinnen Williams snatched the again of his jersey as he unwound a third-down throw? Or how Williams spun Jones down along with his proper arm, whereas preventing off Patriots offensive lineman Cole Strange along with his left?

Do you bear in mind how the play completed?

Jones accomplished the cross.

He feathered it over a Jets defender in brief zone alongside the suitable sideline for a 15-yard achieve. Rookie receiver Demario Douglas tumbled backwards with the catch and into the Jets’ sideline. First down.

“When I was watching film of it Monday, I saw the hit and said ‘Yo, that’s crazy,’ ” Douglas remembered. “I swear I was smiling for a minute.”

A 12 months in the past, Jones doesn’t full that cross. He melts on the mere sight of Williams, takes a sack, forces a throwaway or worse. In 2022, Jones ranked because the NFL’s worst quarterback below strain by passer score and Pro Football Focus grades. His tape, relationship again to the preseason, was plagued by performs the place he bailed out of pockets prematurely or crumbled inside them.

Ex-Patriots captain: Mac Jones should cease getting concerned in soiled incidents

But this 12 months? He’s cool, man. He’s calm. And he is a top-5 quarterback below strain, per PFF.

According to the Herald’s charting, Jones has posted a better passer score with a rusher in his face (88.02) than inside a clear pocket. Under strain, he is gone 24-of-40 for 265 yards and a landing with no interceptions. He’s additionally taken six sacks, a operate of the league’s worst cross safety, per ESPN’s pass-block win price, which captures how incessantly linemen maintain their blocks for two.5 seconds or longer.

Jones’ play has already allowed the Patriots to increase possessions in a means they didn’t final 12 months, together with their solely landing drive versus the Jets. His capacity to wade by means of waves of strain additionally spurred the Pats to close comebacks versus the Eagles and Dolphins. Almost does not lower it within the NFL, however Jones’ regular hand ought to finally seize extra.