By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In the 24/7 media world, a story can be big one day and completely forgotten the next. Eyes and minds dart like pinballs from one story to another story to another story, so it’s only natural that when a juicy nugget pops up and seems new, it’s actually a juicy nugget that already popped up days, weeks, or months in the past.READ MORE: Bengals Have Rookie Kicker Evan McPherson Thanks In Large Part To Patriots' Draft Day Trade
Such may be the case on Friday. In The Athletic, Jeff Howe tackled a simply yet important question: “How did the rest of the NFL allow Mac Jones to fall to the Patriots?” While Jones has not been a franchise savior or a statistical monster in his young career, he has been very, very good. His strong showing thus far must have some teams — whether they drafted one of the four QBs that went before Jones, or whether they didn’t draft a QB at all — second-guessing themselves.
Howe noted that one team that tried to move up to draft Mac Jones but didn’t try hard enough was the New Orleans Saints.
“The Saints tried trading ahead of the Patriots with the intention of drafting Jones, but the Saints couldn’t find a team that was willing to fall all the way back to No. 28,” Howe reported.
(Look at that. Tom Brady’s two regular-season losses to the Saints helped devalue New Orleans’ first-round pick. Very nice of Brady to help out of his former team like that.)
“[The Saints] were trying to get up above New England to get Mac Jones. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Lombardi said in May. “Now, everybody will deny it, no, no, no. I’m just telling you: They were trying to get ahead. They couldn’t get there.”
Lombardi added, “Sean Payton loved Mac Jones.”
That may, technically, be old news. But after the quarterbacking debacle on display on Thanksgiving night — with Drew Brees in the broadcast booth, to boot — it certainly feels particularly relevant again.READ MORE: Rob Gronkowski Needs A Few Weeks To Decide On His Future, But Hints He May Still Play Even If Tom Brady Retires
Trevor Siemian, who’s taken the reins since Jameis Winston suffered his season-ending knee injury, was very bad. Behind Siemian’s 7-for-13 first half, the Saints had just 64 yards of offense at halftime. The Bills — who had offensive issues of their own in the first half — used the Saints’ offensive ineptitude to run away with the game in the second half. Siemian finished 17-for-29 for 163 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and two sacks. The Saints were 5-for-14 on third down and 1-for-3 on fourth down.
After scoring the fifth-most points in the NFL last year, the Saints now rank 17th. They also dropped from 12th in yards to 27th.
It’s … not great.
The team clearly has some high hopes for Taysom Hill, who signed a unique contract this week that could pay him like a quarterback or could not pay him like a quarterback. He was, however, too injured to play quarterback on Thursday night, when Siemian clearly was a detriment to the Saints’ goal of … moving the football down the field. (Hill was listed as a full participant all week long on the Saints’ injury report, making that postgame distinction from Payton seem a bit odd.)
But Hill has thrown just 142 passes in his four-year NFL career. He’s thrown four touchdowns and four interceptions. But he has been effective otherwise, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt while completing 71.1 percent of his passes.
He also lost an open competition to Jameis Winston, though, so expectations for him as an every-down quarterback should be tempered.
Again, Mac Jones shouldn’t be viewed as a juggernaut, but he has completed 70.2 percent of his 349 passes, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt in an offense that ranks 17th in yards and sixth in points scored.
Jones is also taking some significant strides as the year goes on. He posted an 84.7 passer rating in September, a 97.2 passer rating in October, and a 112.9 passer rating thus far in November. The turning point of his season, coincidentally, seemed to be his loss to the Saints in Week 3. That was his worst game as a pro, evidenced by his 55.2 passer rating that day. He has a 102.9 passer rating, with 12 touchdowns and five picks, since that loss, though.MORE NEWS: Jerod Mayo Reportedly Heading To Vegas To Interview For Raiders Head Coaching Job
The NFL at large will ultimately learn a lot more about Jones in the coming month, as he goes up against the Titans, Bills (twice), and Colts in the midst of a hotly contested playoff race in both the division and the conference. It’s possible that things turn the wrong way for Jones. But it’s also possible that he continues his upward trajectory, in which case teams that passed on Jones or decided not to sell out to trade up and get him will surely be kicking themselves after letting the QB simply fall into the Patriots’ lap at No. 15 in the draft.