Patriots vs Dolphins: How will Mac Jones in perform in his first NFL start?

Cam Newton was recently released from the New England Patriots. Here’s what we can expect from rookie quarterback Mac Jones in his first start against the Dolphins. 

Whether they liked Mac Jones as an NFL Draft prospect or not, New England Patriots fans have to be overjoyed with what they’ve seen out of their new franchise quarterback so far. While the rookie has yet to play in any meaningful game action, he stole the show in the 2021 preseason with his incredible poise and accuracy in the pocket.

Jones was so good, in fact, that he actually earned the highest preseason grade ever handed to a rookie quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus. Through three contests, his 92.2 grade was slightly higher than that of the great Patrick Mahomes (91.8).

Now Jones is set to lead his team much earlier than we could have anticipated. Though I have been following along closely with the progress he has made this summer, I expected veteran Cam Newton to get the start in Week 1. However, the former NFL MVP was shockingly released by the New England Patriots in the final wave of cuts.

With this news, Mac Jones is the confirmed starter for Week 1 as the Patriots host the Miami Dolphins. Bill Belichick’s team was disappointing in 2020, to say the least, but there’s much more reason for optimism this year.

What can the Patriots expect from Mac Jones in his first NFL start?

This game holds a particular level of intrigue as Jones will go toe-to-toe with the quarterback he sat behind in college, Tua Tagovailoa. While Tua started over Jones and was deemed the better prospect by most, Jones will be hoping to put that notion to rest with a great performance in his first NFL game.

Unfortunately, his first win may not come easy. On paper, the Miami Dolphins have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the NFL, and with a strong offseason, there’s no reason to believe they are going to be any worse this year.

Outside of Xavien Howard, the Dolphins don’t really have any star defenders, but this unit finished 4th in the league in points allowed per game last year – surrendering just 21.1 per contest, according to Team Rankings.

Jones doesn’t have a lot to work with in terms of wide receivers, as Jakobi Myers and Nelson Agholor are his top pass-catching options. Fortunately, the Patriots have a strong offensive line and a very balanced rushing attack to help make up for some of these deficiencies.

During the preseason, Jones was terrific when under pressure, and while his team will now face a quality defense in a meaningful contest, there’s no reason to believe this can’t continue. I think Jones comes away with his first victory in a close contest in his very first NFL game against the Miami Dolphins.