Year two. It’s a significant turning point in any young quarterback’s career, and Mac Jones is no exception. Mac looks to build on an excellent start to his career, a rookie year that brought New England to the playoffs and one where he put up an impressive stat line of 3801 yards, 22 TD, and 67.6% completions. His work with throwing coach Tom House this offseason could play an instrumental role in his 2022 season, as he looks to follow up on a season filled with promise but still with some areas for improvement.
Where Are The Strengths And Weaknesses In Mac Jones’ Arm?
In his career at Alabama and last year in New England, Mac showed off some excellent abilities with his arm. He is exceptionally accurate within his comfortable range and last year recorded one of the better completion percentages in a season of all time. He excelled on screens and check-downs and always knew the right situations to use them in. He also showed an exceptional ability to place passes accurately within 20 yards, hit receivers in space, and stride to allow yards after the catch.
Mac’s quick release helped him prevent getting sacked much both in New England and Alabama and is a crucial ability that has helped his teams avoid long-yardage situations. It also allowed him to complete passes more efficiently and ranked in the top ten in completion percentage under duress. He is also exceptional at placing touch passes in the deep game, and contrary to beliefs about his passing range; he ranked in the top half of the NFL in terms of yards per pass attempt.
Mac struggled, however, when it came to high velocity passes down the field. As evidence, he was near the bottom of the league in terms of catchable deep passes and the bottom half of the league in deep ball accuracy. Of course, part of this was related to the relatively conservative offense the Patriots ran, but deep throws were a struggle for one of the most accurate passers in the NFL. This was a fundamental limitation for New England’s offense and made it extremely difficult for the team to mount comebacks.
Mac showed flashes of potential even in this area, though. In his final season in college, he threw touchdowns on 30% of his deep passes. In his rookie season, his 75-yard TD to Kendrick Bourne against Dallas had a ton of zipping on it in a critical situation, and he gave the Patriots a five-point lead. He also had an exceptional throw under pressure in Indianapolis when down ten to the Colts, among other impressive plays. This certainly gave Tom House a lot to work with in terms of room for improvement and talent and potential.
Who Is Tom House?
House started his sporting career as an MLB pitcher and then was a pitching coach before becoming a trainer. That background knows a thing or two about throwing accurately at a high velocity. The muscular movements behind throwing a laser into the strike zone aren’t different from throwing a dart down the field. So Tom leveraged his understanding and formed a coaching institute where he coached pitchers and quarterbacks.
Tom even got a Ph.D. in sports psychology, and in his institute, he prioritizes both the physical and mental side of things. People may know him as the basis of the “Million Dollar Arm,” and he loves taking on and improving projects similar to his role with Rinku and Dinesh. Mac joins a prestigious list of Tom’s proteges, including Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
What Can Tom Do For Mac – To Help Him Fill The Shoes Of The Other Tom?
Many analysts talked about Mac Jones as a guy with the lowest ceiling of anyone in the 2021 QB class, and some even stuck to that opinion after his stellar rookie season. House thought differently. He said about Mac: “I don’t know the farthest that Mac has ever thrown a football, but I guarantee you we can train him to do it,” He also recognized Mac’s strengths as an efficient and accurate passer.
Rather than the raw length of the pass, House was referring to honing Mac’s ability to consistently throw long passes with accuracy, something he struggled with last year. Mac improving in that regard can open up many new team options. In addition, it will help him bring out the best in fast receivers on the team like Nelson Agholor and Tyquan Thornton, whose vertical speeds are most apparent on deeper routes.
Most importantly, it would completely round out the types of attacks that Mac and the Patriots’ offense can perform. A crime that can execute longer and shorter passes spread the ball out, have a potent running game and do all of these things effectively will be confusing and intimidating for defenses. While every position on the offense will need to improve to advance the offense, the control tower of all this will be Jones, and his work with House could have a ripple effect on the whole team.
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