Mac Jones, the most heavily scrutinized quarterback of the 2021 draft class, got his first NFL game action Thursday for the Patriots.

Unfortunately for the rookie, his first-ever NFL pass will be recorded as an incompletion — even if everyone watching knows that receiver Jakobi Meyers actually got his hands under the ball.

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Sure, it was ultimately inconsequential — this is a preseason game, after all — but these things matter to some people. New England coach Bill Belichick is not one of those people.

Here’s his explanation for why he didn’t challenge the call (delivered in perfect Belichickian style):

Well, there you have it; guess that’s settled.

Despite his short answer, there probably was a lot more to his decision — not least of which is seeing how his rookie quarterback handles various situations, including his first-ever NFL third down. He delivered in that situation, completing a 7-yard pass to Kristian Wilkerson on the third-and-5 call.

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Another play Belichick could have challenged came on the next drive, on a Jones third-and-2 scramble: The side judge called him a yard short of the line to gain after Washington’s William Bradley-King brought him down. Again, Belichick decided to let the call slide.

Jones — who finished 13 of 19 for 87 yards — looked fairly comfortable in his first game with the Patriots. He had good pocket presence, went through his progressions, didn’t force any throws and threw catchable balls. He nearly threw a 34-yard touchdown to Wilkerson, but the latter couldn’t adjust to the ball (and credit to rookie Torry McTyer for getting a hand in there):

Jones did throw a few low balls to receivers, and tried to connect on a slant route on a longer third down attempt, but you could attribute those mistakes to his rookie status.





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