Morning Sports Update

Kurt Warner weighed in on the comparisons between 2021 Mac Jones and 2001 Tom Brady

"They are a team nobody wants to face," Warner said of the Patriots in 2021.

Mac Jones
Mac Jones throws during the Patriots' win over the Browns. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

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Tonight, the Patriots are in Atlanta to play the Falcons. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m.

Kurt Warner on the Mac Jones-Tom Brady comparison: When it comes to discussing the 2001 Patriots, few have a better perspective on the subject than former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner.

Now an NFL analyst, Warner led the Rams to the Super Bowl that season only to fall to Brady and the Patriots despite being clear favorites.

But when asked for his thoughts on the growing chorus of comparisons between the 2021 Patriots and the 2001 version, Warner sees a surprising difference. In his view, rookie quarterback Mac Jones is doing more than Tom Brady did in his first year as a starter.

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“Well I mean, if you’re going to go back to that season, I would say you’re getting more from Mac Jones than you got from Tom Brady,” Warner told NFL commentator and radio host Rich Eisen.

“Brady was really a placeholder that first year,” Warner said when asked a follow-up question. “Even in the Super Bowl, Brady threw for [145] yards in that game where they beat us. It was really built on defense and running the football. Mac, he’s not in that same mode. Yes they’re running the football well, but they’re putting a lot on his shoulders and they’re asking him to make plays.”

Warner specifically said that he was “impressed” with Jones’ passing in the red zone, and that his efficiency in that part of the field is better than many other young quarterbacks, including Brady in 2001.

Beyond quarterback play, Warner said he concurs with the parallels between the 2021 and 2001 Patriots.

“The team is built on a really, really good defense,” Warner explained. “A very flexible defense, a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things, defensively, which is really kind of been what Bill Belichick likes. To be able to interchange looks and give a bunch of different looks. They’re playing great.

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“They’re running the football really, really well with a bunch of different guys,” Warner continued. “Damien Harris was playing great, and then you have [Rhamondre] Stevenson, who goes for over 100 yards the other day against the Browns.”

When those factors are combined with Jones’s play at quarterback, Warner thinks it could make for a dangerous combination, though he’s still not quite ready to predict New England as an AFC contender.

“I’m still reserving myself to say I’m not sure they can go four games and beat the best teams in the league quite yet, but they are a team nobody wants to face,” he added. “They are a team [that] I believe can knock off anybody in the league. So if they get into the playoffs, which I believe they will the way they’re playing right now, nobody’s going to want to see them. Nobody’s going to want to face them, and then we’ll get a chance to see this young quarterback and if he can take that next step and really compete with the best in the league.”

Trivia: Kurt Warner famously had one of the more circuitous careers of any NFL Hall of Famer. Can you name the four NFL teams he played, including the one in which he was only on the training camp roster?

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(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: Two NFC West, one NFC North, one NFC East.

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On this day: In 1997, the Red Sox traded pitching prospects Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Expos in exchange for National League Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez.

It was a foundational trade for Boston, having lost Roger Clemens in free agency after the 1996 season. Martinez, then 26, had gone 17-9 with a microscopic 1.90 ERA—totaling 305 strikeouts in 241.1 innings pitched—in 1997, and was exactly the piece the Red Sox needed.

While news of the trade filtered out in time to be first reported on Nov. 18, it was formally announced the following day:

Pedro Martinez Red Sox trade
– Globe Archives

Daily highlight: Hitting the full-court putt at halftime:

Trivia answer: Cardinals, Giants, Packers, Rams.

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