By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Here in New England, folks are obviously going to be giving their full attention to the young man known as Michael McCorkle Jones, analyzing and scrutinizing every single thing he does on the football field for the Patriots. That’s what everybody does with quarterbacks, especially when that quarterback is a first-round pick with a high-profile collegiate career in his recent past.
And on Sunday, Mac Jones had what will go down as the first bad start of his career. While Jones once again faced significant pressure throughout the afternoon, the bottom line is that Jones had a rough day of work against the Saints.
Aided by 50 passing yards in a late, garbage-time drive, Jones finished the game 30-for-51 for 270 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The first interception came when he got hit while throwing, the second came off a bobble by tight end Jonnu Smith, and the third came on a fourth-and-10 desperation heave on the aforementioned garbage time drive.
After avoiding throwing an interception for his first two games, Jones now has three next to his name.
But as far as the struggle of rookie quarterbacks go, Jones is not alone.
Trevor Lawrence, who was essentially declared three years ago to be the No. 1 pick in 2021, has had a rough go of it in Jacksonville. He threw two more interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, giving him seven interceptions on the young season.
That puts Lawrence in a tie for the most interceptions in the NFL … with fellow rookie and No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson.
A week after throwing four picks against the Patriots, Wilson threw a pair of interceptions while his Jets were shut out by the Broncos on Sunday.
Wilson has now completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 628 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions, while taking 15 sacks. His passer rating is 51.6.
Lawrence has now completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 669 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions, while taking five sacks. His passer rating is 60.3.
In New England, Jones has completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 737 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s been sacked six times, and his passer rating is 79.1.
Clearly, the three rookie quarterbacks with the most playing time have had a bear of time acclimating to the NFL. The climb is that much harder for Lawrence and Wilson, who joined two legitimately dreadful football teams. With new head coaches in place, things could improve in the years to come. For now, though, the challenge of thriving for the Jaguars or Jets is proving to be significant.
Elsewhere, Justin Fields finally got his first start for the Bears in place of the injured Andy Dalton, and it was a nightmare.
Fields was sacked nine times — nine times — while completing just six passes in the Bears’ 26-6 loss to the Browns. Fields was 6-for-20 for 68 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and he ran three times for 12 yards. The Bears gained just 47 yards of offense in the entire game. That’s the worst offensive showing in the NFL in the past 40 years.
Of the five first-round quarterbacks, Trey Lance popping in to 49ers games in spot duty for Jimmy Garoppolo seems to be the biggest success story. Lance entered Sunday night’s game vs. Green Bay on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 2 seconds left in the first half, and he easily ran in a touchdown.
Lance later came in as a decoy on a third-and-1, where Kyle Juszczyk motioned under center, took a snap, and fell forward to pick up a first down. Lance did get a chance to throw a pass midway through the fourth quarter, but the play was wiped out by a defensive holding penalty.
Lance now has four rushes for one yard and one touchdown, and he’s completed his lone pass — a five-yard touchdown strike.
Here’s how all of the rookies with starts have fared thus far.
Mac Jones, Patriots
737 yards, 6.1 Y/A
2 TDs, 3 INTs
79.1 passer rating
6 rushes, 28 yards
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
669 yards, 5.7 Y/A
5 TDs, 7 INTs
60.3 passer rating
9 rushes, 46 yards
Zach Wilson, Jets
628 yards, 6.0 Y/A
2 TDs, 7 INTs
51.6 passer rating
4 rushes, 21 yards
Justin Fields, Bears
138 yards, 3.9 Y/A
0 TD, 1 INT
39.9 passer rating
14 rushes, 46 yards, TD
Davis Mills, Texans
270 yards, 5.9 Y/A
2 TDs, 1 INT
80.9 passer rating
3 rushes, -1 yards