Future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick is headed to Las Vegas on Sunday to battle his former offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. Coming into town with Belichick is the Patriots’ first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mac Jones, whom McDaniels trusted to run his offense in New England last year.
For the first time since 2008, the two coaches will go head-to-head on the football field. If McDaniels wants a repeat of the victory he earned against Belichick in 2008, he’ll have to make sure his team is ready. More importantly, they need to be ready for the 24-year-old signal caller on the other side. In the meantime, Raiders Nation should know what to expect as well.
Mac Jones, and what he brings to the table for the New England Patriots
With 27 games now under his belt, the NFL world has a pretty good idea of what Mac Jones can do. The Alabama alum led New England to a playoff berth during his rookie campaign, which was very impressive. There’s hope he can do the same again as the Patriots currently hold the seventh-seed in the AFC.
Jones has played in 10 games this season, logging 2,198 passing yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. His 68.2% completion percentage ranks second throughout the NFL among 33 qualified quarterbacks. At the same time, his on-target pass percentage of 77.1% puts him at 11th.
The Patriots’ QB1 also has a passer rating of 85.7, which ranks 25 out of 33.
Like the New England quarterbacks before him, Mac’s game revolves around getting the ball out quickly. Jones’ 2.3 snap-to-throw time is tied for fourth-quickest among starting quarterbacks. Also, his 7.3 intended air yards per attempt is 21st-highest of the 33 qualifying signal callers. On “short” throws, or throws 0â€“9 yards out, Belichick’s man under center is completing 79.2% of his passes, tied for the 10th-highest. Mac has three of his seven touchdowns on these throws, not throwing a single interception.
That’s where the Patriots are looking to attack, and Las Vegas’ defense needs to be ready.
Patrick Graham, Raiders shouldn’t fear Jones’ deep ball
Mac Jones may excel when he’s getting the ball out quick, but his deep ball still leaves much to be desired. The Patriots’ quarterback has the ninth-highest completion percentage on throws 20-plus yards out (43.9%). However, that’s the extent of the good; the rest of the analytics surrounding his deep throws are far from impressive.
When going deep, Jones has a “big time throw” percentage (throws with “excellent” timing and ball placement) of only 25.6%. This number ranks 20th among the 37 quarterbacks with at least 15 throws of 20-plus yards downfield. Jones is also responsible for four interceptions when going deep, which is tied for the sixth-most in the league. His two touchdowns on such attempts are tied for the ninth-fewest. With these numbers, New England’s signal caller has earned a QB rating of 67.4 when going long, the 10th-lowest league-wide.
With veteran safety Duron Harmon playing deep, who has the third-highest coverage grade via Pro Football Focus (82.4) among safeties with at least 100 coverage snaps, as well as the 18th-lowest quarterback rating allowed under the same stipulations (69.9), the Raiders should be more than ready for passes downfield.
Don’t allow too much of a cushion at the line of scrimmage and finish tackles; if the Silver and Black follow this recipe, chances are high they’ll walk away victorious.
*Top Photo: NBC Sports/Boston