You can start with the walk. That walk might be a top-three entry in the list of compelling things about Mac Jones. After the New England Patriots selected him 15th overall in this year’s draft, the Alabama quarterback made his way to the stage like he was prepared to cut a deal on Shark Tank. He walked in like a wrestler’s manager ready to challenge an opponent to an “I Quit” match. This dude, who would be named the starting quarterback of an NFL team months later, exuded the energy of Tom Wambsgans about to deliver some news that would get him screamed at.
For a position in football that requires such fine-tuned mechanics, it was not particularly inspiring to see the Patriots’ newest quarterback with the gait of a senior associate who had just concluded a very productive meeting with his superior. Even in the non-distorted version of the video, the upper and lower halves of his body seemed to be fighting with each other. Adding to that doubt was an earlier photo of his perfectly round belly after a Crimson Tide win in 2020; the hard truth that Alabama hasn’t produced a good NFL QB in decades, although Jones, along with Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, are trying to change that perception; and the fact that Michael “Mac” Jones’s middle name is McCorkle. There was a lot not to like.
With respect to Jacoby Brissett, who as a rookie in 2016 started two games due to Tom Brady’s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury then faded back down the depth chart, the Patriots have not been in a position like this in a long time. In Week 1, Jones became the first rookie quarterback for the Patriots to start a season opener since Drew Bledsoe in 1993, well before the Bill Belichick era. He was competent but unspectacular, throwing for one touchdown and 281 yards in a 17-16 loss to the Dolphins. The Pats’ offense had a chance near the end to drive down the field and complete a fourth-quarter comeback, but running back Damien Harris fumbled the ball, effectively sealing the win for Miami. Still, Jones handled pressure well throughout the game, especially on third down, and he had a lovely pass to James White on third and long.
In Week 2, Jones was less of a factor, but it worked in his favor. He went 22-for-30 with 186 passing yards and no touchdowns or picks. He was sacked three times. He was not as effective on third down as in his first game. That was fine, because the Jets beat themselves. Opposing rookie QB Zach Wilson threw four interceptions and had to deny seeing ghosts. Meanwhile Nick Folk converted four field goals, and Harris found redemption with a touchdown run in which he broke seven tackles. The Patriots coasted to a 25-6 win.
Jones’s stats through two games are not impressive. They’re free of errors, but that’s different than them qualifying as impressive. The only remarkable aspect is a 73.9 completion percentage, a number consistent with his junior year at Alabama (77.4). For Belichick, who fixates on the cost of a turnover to a degree beyond the average football coach’s fixation, Mac Jones is his ideal rookie signal-caller: He plays at a level that does not cost his team the game, but instead allows his talented teammates to decide it. It’s not a coincidence that Belichick took Nick Saban’s former quarterback.
The Patriots’ 2020 campaign was quite sour. The arrival of free-agent QB Cam Newton brought excitement, but that faded away over the course of the season. The offense was deliberately run-heavy, but it wasn’t clear why the former MVP was having difficulty with accuracy and turnovers. Newton’s shortcomings might have just become more obvious because he didn’t have many spectacular plays to subsidize the mistakes. Was it because COVID-19 hampered his training camp? Was it a mysterious injury? Was Newton just bad?
Even after the Patriots drafted Jones, I was prepared to watch another season of Newton, mostly because I was still enthusiastic about him, and it felt like the rookie would be a long-term plan. Then it seemed that the plans changed. Maybe Jones just looked better. Nonetheless, the Patriots cut Newton, and there was no earthly reason for anyone to rally around the belief that Brian Hoyer hadn’t hit his ceiling yet. It was time to take the Macpill.
Macpilling is a voluntary condition that cannot in good conscience be recommended. To be clear, it does not involve rejection of any other quarterback style: Patrick Mahomes’s sidearm throws are still amazing, as is a fadeaway touchdown bomb from Kyler Murray. The quarterback position has evolved in the NFL, and if you’re lucky enough to have your team draft one of these versatile playmakers, congratulations. The Patriots did not do that. To be Macpilled is to not just accept the circumstances, but embrace them. The credo of the Macpill is that it’s fun to watch a big goofy fucker do cool shit within his limitations. You could hope that this big goofy fucker will become great one day, as that would be more exciting and infuriate everyone else, but the Macpilled individual knows that it is best to take the victories as they come and not look too far ahead.
There’s a pure excitement that builds around your team drafting a new QB, and a perverse sort of rationalization follows. It’s understandable: A new quarterback signals the beginning of an era in a way that an offensive lineman or defensive back would not. At one point, Blaine Gabbert was going to be the face of the revitalized Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots and their fans are currently in that warm and fuzzy phase. He won the job in camp. He “plays like a vet.” He has poise!
Macpilling is not based in materialism. It is not necessary to buy a Mac Jones jersey, or convince others that he’s already the leading candidate to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Macpilling is not based in a genuine love for Mac Jones as a person. This is important. Macpilling is not based in irony. Sure, there’s a touch of it, but there’s sincere excitement around Jones because of his potential, even if the floor and ceiling aren’t that far apart. My expectations for the Patriots this season are non-existent; I look forward to each game without dread. The prizes come in the short term: Your team just lost to Mac Jones. Haha, sick.
Is there an end goal for the Macpill? Not really. At some point the Macpilled will move on, whether it’s because he becomes a true drag to watch, they grow sick of his face, or he reveals some part of his character that makes it no longer fun. In the meantime, take joy in the nifty third-down conversions, the laser passes to all those new receivers, and the silly in-game moments that otherwise hold no consequence. Now, before a dismal reality sets in, it is time to take the Macpill. Just look at that big goofy fucker.