Jets defensive coordinator admits Mac Jones is ‘way better than I wanted him to be’

Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was impressed with how Jones performed against the Dolphins' pressure in Week 1.

Mac Jones Patriots
Mac Jones's play against the Dolphins' blitz stood out to Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones didn’t look like a player making his first career start last Sunday against the Dolphins, according to Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

In preparing for this week’s matchup against the Patriots, Ulbrich shared how impressed he was with the way Jones played against Miami.

“He was way better than I wanted him to be,” Ulbrich told reporters Thursday. “You anticipate seeing a young inexperienced quarterback making young inexperienced quarterback type of decisions. I didn’t see a whole lot of that.”

In his first game, Jones was mostly clean with the ball. After fumbling on his first drop back, Jones didn’t put the Patriots in much trouble, completing 29 of 39 passes. His 74.4 completion percentage was the highest ever for a rookie in their debut. Jones also had 281 passing yards, a touchdown, and didn’t throw a pick.


Ulbrich believes Alabama prepared Jones well for the NFL and the Patriots placed a good situation around the quarterback.

“I think he’s got some real skill and poise,” Ulbrich said. “Obviously, he comes from a school where you get NFL-caliber coaching. He’s as NFL-ready as you can find from the quarterback position. (The Patriots) are working the scheme around him giving him some clean reads, some easy reads, some easy progressions. He’s got some good guys to throw to, too. It’s a little bit of all of those things.”

If playing in his first NFL game didn’t provide enough pressure to Jones, the Dolphins dialed it up. They blitzed on 47.5 percent of their defensive snaps, up 41 percent from their 2020 average.

Jones performed well against the blitz, completing 14-of-18 passes for 124 yards. Against pressure, Jones completed 7-of-10 passes 71 yards with a touchdown.

“I think the film tells the story,” Ulbrich said. “You see a young guy with really uncommon poise sitting in the pocket. You talk about getting thrown in the fire, that’s Miami. They’re not afraid of zero blitzing and they came after him. Three pressured him and they hit him. He got hit nine times. That’s unheard of and he still sat there in the pocket and delivered throws and made a lot of really good throws down the stretch. He’s going to be a difficult challenge. He definitely does not look like a rookie.”

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