Morning Sports Update

NFL analyst explained how Mac Jones answered a major pre-draft question in his preseason debut

"He showed that he can throw it to guys who are NFL open, so that was huge for me."

Mac Jones Patriots
Mac Jones during his preseason debut against Washington. Elise Amendola/AP

The Red Sox open a three-game series against the Yankees this afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Boston trails Tampa Bay by 3.5 games in the American League East.

On Wednesday, the Revolution host D.C. United at 7 p.m. New England is currently on a seven-game unbeaten run and remains at the top of the Eastern Conference.

And today, the Patriots have another joint practice with the Eagles.

Mac Jones in the preseason: While the first preseason game — and preseason as a whole — offers only a glimpse at the potential impact of an NFL rookie, it can occasionally be a useful measuring stick to help answer pre-draft questions.


This, according to one NFL analyst, is the case with Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

During a Monday episode of ESPN’s “Highly Questionable,” former NFL defensive back Domonique Foxworth mentioned Jones, currently locked in a quarterback competition with fellow New England quarterback Cam Newton, as a player whose play in preseason was worth watching.

In comparing rookie quarterbacks after their first preseason games, Foxworth said that the potential issues with Jones differed from some of the other first-year players.

“Mac Jones is the only one with big questions that could potentially be answered in the preseason,” said Foxworth. “The questions around some of these other guys were, ‘Can he play at this level of talent? Will he be able to keep up with the speed of the game? Will they be able to read defenses’ We won’t know those answers until regular season games when they play against real defenses who are actually scheming to beat them.

“The big question for Mac Jones is can he throw it to guys who are ‘NFL open,’ or can he only throw it to guys who are ‘Alabama open?'” Foxworth added. Jones, who led Alabama to an NCAA National Championship last season, played with multiple wide receivers who went on to become first-round picks.


“He showed that he can throw it to guys who are NFL open, so that was huge for me,” said Foxworth. “That’s the only guy who I leave this weekend feeling entirely different about than I did before this weekend started.”

Jones completed 13 of 19 passes for 87 yards, including several completions to receivers who were closely covered (what Foxworth deemed “NFL open.”)

“NFL open is not actually open,” Foxworth explained. “NFL open is you throw the ball to a spot that your player can potentially make a play. College open is what you guys are accustomed to when you’re playing video games. Like, ‘Oh, he’s wide open.’ That’s what we get when you see those screenshots that are kind of misleading.”

Based on his experience as a player (Foxworth played in the NFL from 2005-2011), he added that the opposing quarterback mattered more from his perspective as a defensive player than the receiver.

“People love to ask NFL corners who’s the hardest person to cover,” said Foxworth. “I can give you guys all the answers that you want, but actually the answer to that question is whoever was catching balls from Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees. Those were the hardest guys to cover because you couldn’t cover them even when you were ‘covering them.’


“That is what NFL open looks like,” Foxworth explained. “If you have a quarterback who can hit those passes consistently — which I’m not sure Mac Jones can, but he showed he has the ability to do it sometimes — then you are set. You don’t even have to read defenses. If you can throw it that well, go ahead, throw it into double-coverage. You know why? Because you can put it into that spot where it works. You go ahead and ask Aaron Rodgers about that.”

Trivia: Domonique Foxworth was selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. What player did the Patriots select in the first round that year?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: A guard who made seven Pro Bowls in his career.

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