Welcome to New England, Mac Jones.
The Patriots' No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama took the field in front of the home crowd for the first time Thursday as New England opened the preseason against the Washington Football Team with a 22-13 victory.
Even before taking a single snap, Jones, who replaced starter Cam Newton late in the first quarter, was embraced by the fans at Gillette Stadium:
In limited action, Jones played well enough for New England to earn the win. The Patriots also got three field goals from Quinn Nordin—including a 50-yarder—to go with two fourth-quarter touchdowns from running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
Washington's Lamar Miller and Peyton Barber accounted for WFT's two touchdowns.
Cam Newton, Patriots: 4-of-7, 49 yards, 78.9 rating
Mac Jones, Patriots: 13-of-19, 87 yards, one sack, 78.2 rating
Brian Hoyer, Patriots: 2-of-4, 14 yards, 58.3 rating
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington: 5-of-8, 58 yards, 84.4 rating
Taylor Heinicke, Washington: 9-of-15, 86 yards, one sack, 76.0 rating
Steven Montez, Washington: 17-of-24, 108 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, one sack, 76.4 rating
Mac Jones Shines in Debut
It's not often a first-string quarterback serves as the warm-up act, but that was the role Newton found himself in. It's his job to lose, but people were there to see Jones.
A year after Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones was drafted to lead a new era in New England.
Jones played five series, continually spread the ball across the field and could've had at least one touchdown if not for a drop in the end zone. He was accurate and showed touch in getting the ball to the spots he wanted:
.<a href="https://twitter.com/MacJones_10?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MacJones_10</a>' first completion as a pro goes for a first down!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WASvsNE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WASvsNE</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check your local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/QXoNWCGPHr">https://t.co/QXoNWCGPHr</a> <a href="https://t.co/jflvL4aW90">pic.twitter.com/jflvL4aW90</a>
Granted, it's the first preseason game and no one who has a guaranteed roster spot is looking to go full throttle just yet, but it's hard not to get excited by Jones' potential. That was the case for Patriots fans, many of whom headed for the exits after Brian Hoyer replaced Jones in the third quarter.
Jones did get to lead the first series after halftime and used 13 plays to go 53 yards in 5:12 before stalling out at the Washington 22-yard line. The drive ended with a field goal.
Chase Young Makes Big Impact in Little Time
In just a few snaps, defensive end Chase Young proved he's more than ready to follow up his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. In fact, he may have announced his candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year.
Young came out ready to attack, with Newton taking the brunt of his efforts. The Ohio State product burst off the line of scrimmage in the first quarter, promptly pushed his way through single coverage and took down Newton in the backfield, though it wasn't officially a sack since the QB was ruled to have released the ball before Young got to him:
Chase Young already in backfields 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/youngchase907?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@youngchase907</a> <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WASvsNE?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WASvsNE</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check your local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/QXoNWCGPHr">https://t.co/QXoNWCGPHr</a> <a href="https://t.co/jbf7EZ9JU6">pic.twitter.com/jbf7EZ9JU6</a>
"We don't look at it as preseason, man," Young told the NFL Network broadcast after he came out of the game. "I knew I wasn't going to get much time, so I thought it was good practice for me to start early. ... I felt good about what we did."
Nicki Jhabvala @NickiJhabvala
Chase Young talking to <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeSilver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MikeSilver</a> on the sideline about Cam Newton: "Hey, that boy is very big. He's very big. But the goal was to get the ball out, and it came out."<br><br>(Newton released the ball just before Young got to him, so it was a QB hit for Young & inc. pass for Newton.)
Young also ended Newton's night by drawing a holding call on tight end Jonnu Smith on third down, forcing the Patriots to kick a field goal and derailing a solid drive.
Young entered training camp with the fourth-best odds to win Defensive Player of the Year, with DraftKings Sportsbook listing him at +850 (bet $100 to win $850). Only T.J. Watt (+800), Myles Garrett (+500) and Aaron Donald (+500) held better odds.
That may look like a value play by the time the regular season rolls around.
WFT will take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. ET at FedEx Field. The Patriots will be back in action Thursday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to Lincoln Financial Field versus the Philadelphia Eagles.