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Recent history doesn’t bode well for rookie quarterback Mac Jones and Patriots vs. Bills

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Recent history doesn’t bode well for rookie quarterback Mac Jones and Patriots vs. Bills

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Patriots

The rookie quarterbacks are 6-8 in their playoff debut since 2000.

Mac Jones will make his playoff debut against the Bills on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

A year after missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, the Patriots are back in the tournament.

New England went 10-7 in the regular season, good enough for a wild card berth in a game against Buffalo in the Wild Card Round. The Patriots’ offseason roster overhaul could be seen as the biggest reason for their year-long turnaround, with the most notable change coming at quarterback. New England drafted Mac Jones in the first round and made him their starting quarterback just before the regular season, cutting 2020 starter Cam Newton in the process.

Jones had a strong rookie season, clearly standing above his fellow first-round rookie quarterbacks. He led all rookies in passing yards (3,801), passing touchdowns (22), completion percentage (67.6) and passer rating (92.5), making him the one of two favorites to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Despite the strong numbers, recent history suggests the Patriots’ season will end on Saturday. Since 2000, rookie quarterbacks are 6-8 in their first playoff start. It should be noted that four of those starts were made by rookies who replaced the regular starting quarterback, which would adjust the record to 4-6 among rookie quarterbacks who were the team’s starting quarterback during the regular season.

The last rookie quarterback to start a playoff game was Lamar Jackson in 2018. The Ravens QB had a tough day at the office, completing just 14 of 29 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. While rushing for 54 yards, he was sacked seven times in a 23-17 Wild Card loss to the Chargers.

Two years prior, Dak Prescott, who won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, also fell short in his first playoff start. The Prescott and Cowboys offense struggled through the first three quarters of their Divisional Round game against the Packers, scoring just 13 points early in the fourth. Prescott turned things around, however, helping Dallas score 18 points to help tie the game 31-31 with 35 seconds left. But it was too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers, who set up the Packers for the game-winning field goal. Despite the wasted effort, Prescott’s last line of stats looked good, completing 24 of 38 passes for 302 yards with three touchdowns and a pick.

Three rookie quarterbacks made their playoff debuts in 2012, two of whom faced each other. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin faced off in the Wild Card Round. Griffin led the Redskins in touchdowns in their first two practices, giving them a 14-0 lead. But they didn’t score for the rest of the day, losing 24-14 after Griffin left the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter. Griffin finished the day with just 84 passing yards.

Wilson wasn’t too impressive either. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 187 and added 67 rushing yards.

In the AFC, Andrew Luck also had a tough playoff reception. While he threw for 288 yards, he came on 54 passes as the Colts failed to reach the end zone in a 24-9 loss to the Ravens.

A year earlier, Andy Dalton helped the Bengals return to the playoffs as a rookie. He had a rocky start to the playoffs, completing 27 of 42 passes for 257 yards with three interceptions as the Bengals lost to the Texans, 31-10.

Mark Sanchez came away with a win as a rookie in his 2009 playoff debut, leading the Jets to a 24-14 road win over the Bengals. Sanchez also handled the match well. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown.

In 2008, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan made their playoff debuts as rookies with differing results. Flacco’s Ravens picked up a road win over the Dolphins despite only completing 9 of 23 passes for 135 yards. Ryan had a rough day in his playoff debut, completing 26 of 40 passes for just 199 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as the Falcons fell to the Cardinals, 30-24.

Ben Roethlisberger was the only uninjured backup rookie to start the playoffs in nearly 20 years in 2004. After helping the Steelers to a 15-1 finish, Roethlisberger took the victory over the Jets in the Divisional Round. But he didn’t perform very well there, completing 17 of 30 passes for 181 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions as Pittsburgh needed overtime to win.

Since a lot of rookie performances in recent years aren’t pretty, the average stat line isn’t pretty either. The aforementioned 10 quarterbacks averaged 200.9 passing yards with 1.2 touchdowns to 1.1 interceptions, good for an average passer rating of 79.3.

So the story goes that Jones will have a bad day at the office, but they could still pick up a win. However, playing on the road against the league’s best pass defense in freezing temperatures is sure to make things tougher for the Patriots and Jones in his playoff debut.



Recent history doesn’t bode well for rookie quarterback Mac Jones and Patriots vs. Bills

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