During Tom Brady’s first season as an NFL starter, the Patriots were able to win the Super Bowl. Will they be able to replicate that achievement with Mac Jones?
That will not be easy. The quarterbacks who have started any rookie have never won a Super Bowl, and the No. 6 seed Patriots have a hard time getting to the big game. It starts at No. 3 Seed Bills in Buffalo, against which Jones had struggled in two starts, so Buffalo has the lead in the game.
But patriots really do Need Jones carrying a load? Or do they need to be able to serve him here? Ultimately, they need to get a clutch drive from him to win a strong game or championship, but as we saw in the Bills-Patriots game at Week 13 where Jones threw three passes, the Patriots can win with their hasty offense. And their rock-solid protection.
That would seem familiar to patriotic fans. That’s how Brady won his first championship – and maybe even the championship – with New England. This will give Jones a blueprint to follow as he takes the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
Here’s a look at Brady’s first playoff run and how Jones’ numbers compare to those Brady posted in his rookie season.
Tom Brady’s first playoff run with the Patriots
Brady started all three of his playoffs during his first year as a starter. That included the team’s 20-17 upset win over the Rams in the Super Bowl 36, in which Brady led the team on a late-game-winning field goal drive, with the great John Madden famously announcing that he would play overtime.
That drive – along with the famous “talk rule” call – is Brady’s lasting memory from that postseason run. His main responsibility during that postseason was to ignore the mistakes, which he managed to make on a large scale, saving for an interruption.
Below is a look at Brady’s stats from that postseason:
|Statistics||Tom Brady (2001 postseason)|
|Per game yard||190.7|
|Total touchdowns||2 (1 pass, 1 crowd)|
Incredibly, Brady recorded 52 of his total 97 passing attempts in the first game against the Raiders. He also had 315 passes in that tournament and more than 260 combined yards in the other two competitions. That means he averaged 130 passing yards per game in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.
The NFL 2001 had a slightly lower pass-happy return, but that’s still an unusually low number for the quarterback. Belichik chose to rely on defense and running to help the inexperienced Brady take the title.
Belichick will try to replicate Jones in 2021. Will Jones be able to do that? His numbers from 2021 suggest he should have a chance to do so.
How Mac Jones’ 2021 figures compare to Tom Brady’s 2001 figures
All told, Jones’ rookie-year numbers are closer to what Brady produced as a starter in his first year. Jones started 17 games with Drew Bladeso injured his lungs while playing against the Jets, while Brady played 14 games in 15 games.
To compare the two as accurately as possible, we added Brady’s three postseason starting numbers to the numbers he posted in the regular season. This gave us a 17-star sample size with which he could be compared to Jones. We could have even extrapolated his numbers from the 14-game starting slate to the 17-gamer, but adding real game results felt like a good record.
Here’s how the two stack up after one season.
|Statistics||Jones’ sum||Brady’s sum|
|Per yard effort||7.3||6.7|
Jones is a bit more impressive, as evidenced by his advantage in terms of full percentage and per effort yards, but also has edge in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Again, that is partly due to the increased passing volume at the NFL level, but it also speaks to the fact that Jones is managing the game effectively, as Brady did when he was a first year starter.
We don’t compare Brady to Jones. It would not be fair to say that no cheat, no matter how good, is going to stack up against the biggest quarterback in the long run. In any case, we can say that his rookie-year numbers compare favorably with what Brady produced during his first Super Bowl race. So, if Belichick can get his defense and running game to perform at a high level this month, Jones should, in principle, give the Patriots a chance to win.
That theory will be put to the test on a wild-card weekend as patriots travel to Buffalo to collect bills.