By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — There is, of course, no such thing as actual consensus opinion in any area of human life. It’s not in our nature.

Yet when it came to pre-draft analyses of Michael McCorkle Jones, the common line of thinking from the experts could be summed up thusly: “High floor, low ceiling.”

Jones obviously had dazzling numbers and an undefeated season at Alabama. But he wasn’t mobile, and he certainly had a lot of talent at the receiver position. As such, he was considered to be a guy with an accurate arm who could hit some open guys … and not much more.

Whatever Jones turns into as an NFL quarterback is still yet to be decided. But what he was on Sunday? That was a whole lot better than the “high floor, low ceiling” guy that the Patriots were purportedly getting.

The rookie was delivering strikes all over the field to everyone on the roster. He was confident. He was calm. He was good.

Let’s go to the tape!

This might have been his best throw of the afternoon:

I’m not a doctor but I think this counts as a tight window:

Hunter Henry (Screen shot from

This next one, one of several third-down completions, showed some comfort in the pocket, some patience to work through progressions, and an ability to fit a pass through a lot of traffic:

Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne (GIF from

Three plays later, Jones dropped this one into a bucket to convert another third down:

That drive ended with another nice throw — even if the catch by Bourne was the more impressive part of that equation.

The catch deserves most of the credit. But the throw was nevertheless put in a spot where only Bourne could catch it:

Kendrick Bourne catches a touchdown pass from Mac Jones. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The first touchdown to Hunter Henry had perfect placement:

After allowing a Cleveland touchdown to start the game, the Patriots played close to perfect in every facet of the game. So this win wasn’t all about Mac. Hardly.

But the game also displayed Jones doing things that a lot of people believed he’d never be able to do. That he’s doing them in his 10th game indicates that he is perhaps intending to surpass those low-ceiling limits that have been placed upon him.

Now, some leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 45-7 thumping of the Browns.

–Stat-wise, Mac Jones was 19-for-23 for 198 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. His last snap came 83 seconds into the fourth quarter. It was dominant.

The NFL has since let us all know that Jones’ 142.1 rating is the fifth-highest ever for a rookie QB in a single game. That’s cool and all, as the likes of Dak Prescott and Baker Mayfield are in that grouping. But … so is Geno Smith, who had a 147.7 rating in 2013. (Smith also had a perfect rating in a game in 2014, though that is neither here nor there.)

Geno’s presence is perhaps a reminder to not get too carried away with anything Mac Jones-related right now.

–Let’s talk about another rookie. This one’s name is Christian Barmore. He is a very strong man. 

Watch this young fellow absolutely dominate two enormous men, driving them backward as if on roller skates to collapse a pocket and help force the pass that Kyle Dugger intercepted. Go ahead. Watch him. Now. Do it. He’s lined up on the nose:

Christian Barmore rushes up the middle. (GIF from

Barmore dominated J.C. Tretter on the play, driving him five yards backward in about a second-and-a-half. Right guard Wyatt Teller tried to help out after Dont’a Hightower twisted behind Barmore, but that was a fruitless effort.

That’s 621 pounds of offensive linemen — one being a nine-year vet, the other being a fourth-year player — being no match for the rookie out of Alabama.

This was actually the second consecutive week that Barmore’s pressure helped force an interception, and Bill Belichick pointed out in his “Belichick Breakdown” video how such pressures can be “better than a sack.”

–Barmore had another pressure that helped lead to a third-down incompletion and nearly another interception. This one wasn’t dominance, but he still fought through Tretter’s block to get a hand on Mayfield.

Christian Barmore pressures Baker Mayfield. (GIF from

People are already remarking that Mac Jones going 15th in the draft is absurd. One day, there may be a conversation about how ridiculous it was to steal Barmore at 38th.

–We might as well complete the rookie trifecta by spotlighting Rhamondre Stevenson. Presumably, it is difficult to play in an NFL game after not practicing all week long due to a concussion you suffered in your previous NFL game. Stevenson didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

The numbers were excellent. With Damien Harris out (due to a concussion), Stevenson got 20 carries, rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 14 yards. He picked up five first downs.

His most impressive work might have been his ability to tiptoe his way out of trouble when the Patriots were backed up against their own goal line, kick-starting the 99-yard touchdown drive.

Rhamondre Stevenson runs for five yards. (GIF from

That play went from looking like a possible safety to Stevenson somehow finding safety. And look at that ball security.

Stevenson then ran for four yards on second down before breaking an 18-yard run on third-and-1, getting the Patriots well out of trouble.

Just like last week, Stevenson looked capable of everything. He’s got speed, he’s got power, he’s got jump cuts (the jump cuts rock, folks). And he did it all with no practice this week against a team that entered the game with the third-ranked run defense in the NFL.

Strictly with the trio of Jones, Barmore and Stevenson, it’s shaping up to be quite the rookie class for New England.

–MORE FUN WITH STATS: The NFL said the Patriots are the fifth team since 1970 to have a rookie quarterback throw for two touchdowns and a rookie running back rush for two touchdowns in a game.

Other teams: Cleveland, 2018 (Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb); Dallas, 2016 (Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott); Washington, 2012 (Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris); Denver, 2006 (Jay Cutler, Mike Bell).

Man, that is some fun with stats.

–Oh my gosh, no way — MORE fun with stats? You bet.

That 99-yard touchdown drive — the one that ended with Bourne’s sweet TD — was just the third 99-yard drive by the Patriots during the Belichick era.

When trying to think of the other two, one came to mind easily: In Miami, in 2011, when Wes Welker caught a 99-yard touchdown. That one’s easy to remember. The other one though, escaped me. Does it escape you?

Well, not for long: 2011 vs. the Chargers. I … don’t remember that one. But, cool.

–I jotted down that I should make a snide comment about N’Keal Harry’s garbage time catch. But then I saw it again and it was actually very nice.

Harry has essentially been relegated to a blocking role in the offense, but he has come up with some impressive grabs late in blowout wins this year. Perhaps a minor integration into the red zone offense beyond his blocking duties is forthcoming.

–It’s time to appreciate some good sports photography.

Case Keenum is hit by Dont’a Hightower and Matt Judon. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jakobi Meyers flies into the end zone to score his first NFL touchdown. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The sun shines on the Browns and Patriots at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

D’Ernest Johnson runs into the Patriots’ defense. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Nice job, everybody. Good job appreciating that.

–Kyle Dugger’s special teams tackle might not jump off the stat sheet the way his interception does. But it was a whole lot louder.

Kyle Dugger’s hit on Anthony Schwartz (GIF from

People willingly sign up to play this game. I personally don’t get it.

–Speaking of dangerous situations, Mac Jones’ best play of the game might have been when his Spidey sense tingled and he ducked at the last possible second to avoid being at the center of a painful quarterback sandwich:

Mac Jones ducks. (GIF from

Is there an anthropomorphic waterfowl in the building, folks? Because this Mac … ducks.

(Scrooge McDuck joke. Don’t act like you didn’t get it.)

Malik Jackson looked intent on fulfilling Brian Burns’ “happy hunting” hopes with that one. Could have been ugly if Mac didn’t duck. Instead of helmet to the QB’s temple, it was helmet to Myles Garrett’s shoulder pad. Sheesh!

–Unfortunately for this photographer in the red vest, J.C. Jackson is addicted to intercepting footballs. Even when they’re out of bounds.

J.C. Jackson (GIF from


–Hunter Henry now has seven touchdowns. I loved watching his feet on this play. Safety John Johnson was just guessing out there:

Through 10 games, Henry is now one touchdown away from tying his single-season career high of eight, which he set as a rookie in 2016.

(Also worth noting that Rex Burkhead led the 2020 Patriots in receiving touchdowns, with … three.)

–Speaking of career highs: Matt Judon has now tied his single-season career high with 9.5 sacks. Just a hunch: He’s going to get a lot more.

–Temperature check: the Patriots are 6-4. They are firmly pretty goodThat’s a lot better than the alternative.

We’ve learned a lot about them, with their back-to-back road victories over the Chargers and Panthers, then this blowout. And if they can take care of business in Atlanta on Thursday night like they should, they we can have some real conversations about their place in the AFC.

The reality is that when it comes to closing the gap with Tennessee, Baltimore, and Buffalo, the Patriots aren’t quite there yet. But they’ve made some tremendous progress over the past four weeks. And it looks like we’ll all be getting an entertaining December.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.