The NFL media spent most of the 2021 season praising Mac Jones. In a vacuum, those plaudits were well-deserved. After all, he helped lead the New England Patriots to a playoff appearance and was easily the best rookie quarterback despite being the last one taken in the first round.
However, the hype train came to a screeching halt down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Outside of a flawless showing in the Patriots’ 50-10 shellacking of the Jaguars, Jones completed 57.8% of his passes for an average of 234.2 yards, a total five touchdowns and six interceptions and a 68.1 passer rating in his final four games.
Not the ideal finish to what was a successful rookie year, but there’s no reason for fans to think the sky is falling. However, ESPN analyst and former Pro Bowl receiver Keyshawn Johnson clearly doesn’t feel the same way about Jones.
During an appearance on “The Greg Hill Show” of WEEI Radio, Johnson made a bold proclamation about the No. 15 overall pick.
Patriots fans will hate Keyshawn Johnson’s criticism of Mac Jones.
“He’s a good little piece to what New England wanted to do. When he had to play quarterback, it didn’t work out in their favor,” Johnson said of Jones. “They protected him as much as they could and got enough out of that. Because he looks the part like the New England quarterbacks of the world, the Scott Zolak types, they think they got something.
“Good player, but he ain’t Josh Allen. That’s a problem for them. He ain’t Deshaun Watson. He ain’t Patrick Mahomes. He ain’t Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers…he’s not that, so you’re going to have a little bit of a problem when he’s asked to do certain things.”
These comments are definitely something. For starters, when has anyone ever likened Jones to one of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Deshaun Watson or Joe Burrow? All of those QBs, with maybe the exception of Burrow, are generational talents. Just because Jones doesn’t fall into that group, he deserves to get compared to a lifetime backup in Scott Zolak?
How is that fair?
Johnson’s been down on Jones since the preseason, when he famously claimed the Alabama product wasn’t pushing Cam Newton for the starting job, so we’d take his criticism with a grain of salt. It’s simply a bizarre stance from the former No. 1 overall pick.
By all accounts, Jones’ rookie campaign was one to remember. He finished the year ranking second among rookie quarterbacks in NFL history in completion percentage (67.6%), fourth in passing yards (3,801), eighth in touchdowns (22), 10th in QB rating (92.5) and 12th in wins (10).
Additionally, Jones was a Pro Bowl alternate and the only reason he didn’t win Offensive Rookie of the Year is because Bengals star Ja’Marr Chase turned in maybe the best season from a rookie wide receiver in league history.
Jones did all of that without a true No. 1 wide receiver, too. While Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are nice players, it’s fair to assume the kids gloves will come off Jones once the Pats equip him with a proven stud on the perimeter.
Our advice? Don’t read into Johnson’s criticism. He’s been pumping this narrative since Jones was drafted and he clearly isn’t in the business of admitting he was wrong so he insists on doubling down on his criticism.
That, unfortunately, is what sports media has become in the year 2022.