Mac Jones’ success without a true No. 1 receiving option continues to shock

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t too long ago when Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were criticized for standing pat at No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Some say New England got lucky that Mac Jones fell into their lap. Some think Belichick knew all along that the Alabama product would be the fifth quarterback selected, though that didn’t become clear until the Bears moved up nine spots to leapfrog the Pats and draft Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick.

As for the rest, well, they can’t stand the thought of Belichick getting his hands on another franchise QB two years after Tom Brady skipped town.

Through 10 games, Jones has looked markedly better than any of the other gunslingers from his draft class. So much so, in fact, that he’s been pegged as a legitimate contender for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

There’s been a lot to love from Jones’ rookie campaign thus far, but the fact he’s been as successful as he has without a true No. 1 wide receiver is without a doubt the most impressive part.

Take a look at the Patriots’ receiving numbers this year:

Patriots QB Mac Jones flourishing without an elite WR is extremely impressive.

We obviously don’t mean this as a dig at the Patriots’ receiving corps.

In most circumstances, Jakobi Meyers would be a solid third (maybe second) option on a playoff team. The 25-year-old is an underrated route runner and more than capable of dominating the intermediate game. With that being said, he still doesn’t have a 100-yard game under his belt despite playing 87% of the snaps … and he just scored his first career touchdown this past week.

The fact he’s the undisputed top option is a little alarming, but you won’t find Jones complaining about it.

As for Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, while their ability to haul in the deep ball keeps opposing defense’s honest, there are multi-game stretches where you forget they’re on the team. Between the two newly-minted Patriots, they’ve combined for 10 (!) games with fewer than 35 receiving yards this year.

Do we really have to go in deep on N’Keal Harry? Whether or not he has a future with the franchise (probably not), the former first-round pick seems to be viewed as more of a run blocker than an impact receiver for the time being.

See what we’re saying? Everyone’s been quick to minimize Jones’ accomplishments because he plays for arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history and he has a top-five defense behind him. But nobody wants to acknowledge that his receiving corps ranks in the bottom third of the league based on talent.

Seems a little unfair, don’t you think?

Despite working with a middling WR corps, Jones has five games with a passer rating of 100 or better. The rest of the 2021 class has ZERO total.

Stop moving the goal posts and accept the fact that he’s better than you ever could’ve imagined in Year 1.