Mac Jones landed in a perfect spot with Bill Belichick, but Trevor Lawrence hit rock bottom with the Jaguars

Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Trevor Lawrence (left) will be going home after a horrible regular season; Mac Jones is going to the playoffs. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Welcome to the Unconventional Review, an instant reaction to standouts, stats, and story lines from the Patriots’ most recent game . . .

The contrast in performance between Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones in the Patriots’ playoff-clinching 50-10 rout of the Jaguars Sunday also stood as yet another reminder of how fortunate a young quarterback is to play for Bill Belichick rather than against him.

This was Jones’s day to outshine his fellow rookie QB. After subpar performances in losses to the Colts and Bills, Jones was as sharp as he has been all season Sunday, completing 22 of 30 passes for 227 yards and 3 touchdowns.


Jones has 21 touchdown passes, breaking the Patriots’ rookie record (19) set by Jim Plunkett in 1971. Plunkett actually has more in common with Lawrence — he was a No. 1 overall pick who was constantly under siege as a young quarterback.

Not everyone ends up in the advantageous circumstances Jones has. Not everyone takes advantage of it, either. He sure did Sunday.

Some further thoughts, upon immediate review . . .


(Players suggested in Unconventional Preview: Damien Harris, Marvin Jones Jr., Jonnu Smith.)

Kristian Wilkerson. Is it an exaggeration to say this is the most impressive performance by a barely known Patriot since Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts in 2014? I don’t think it is. Wilkerson, who didn’t have a catch in three previous career games, was elevated ahead of receiver/backup tackle N’Keal Harry to the active roster, and pretty much played like he’s been one of Jones’s most trusted targets all season. He scored his first touchdown with a 6-yard catch in the back of the end zone to put the Patriots up, 21-3, in the second quarter, then added another TD catch, on a lovely Jones throw, from 20 yards early in the third. He finished with four catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns, and nearly had a third touchdown but couldn’t hang on to Jones’s perfectly placed 43-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter. I hope at least one of you had him in your fantasy football lineup.


Rhamondre Stevenson: We could have gone with either primary Patriots running back here, honestly. Stevenson and Damien Harris each scored a pair of touchdowns — both of Harris’s came in the first half, both of Stevenson’s in the second. But Stevenson got the brunt of the workload, running 19 times for 107 yards, his second career 100-yard game. While Harris might have had the niftiest run of the day, taking a pitch, reversing field Marcus Allen-style and gaining 6 yards deep in Jaguars territory in the first quarter, Stevenson’s second touchdown was the first runner-up for Run of The Day. With a little over seven minutes left in the game, he swept left and turned the corner with speed that no running back of his size is supposed to have, scoring from 6 yards to put the Patriots up, 50-3. Pretty good duo the Patriots have here.

J.C. Jackson: You’d better admit it: When Jackson — who dropped two potential interceptions last week against the Bills — picked off Lawrence with 1 minute 59 seconds left in the first half, you said, “Oh, sure, he catches that one.” Fine, fine, I did too. The interception, his eighth of the season and 25th of his Patriots career, moved him ahead of Nick Buoniconti and Ronnie Lippett into ninth place on the franchise’s all-time interceptions leaderboard. He’s just two behind Maurice Hurst and three from tying Hall of Famer Mike Haynes. And speaking of good company, with 25 picks in four seasons, he’s tied with all-time ballhawks Everson Walls and Lester Hayes for the most interceptions through a player’s first four seasons.



What could anyone possibly have to complain about after this one? I suppose I could note that the Andrew Catalon/James Lofton broadcast pairing erroneously noted that Harris’s second touchdown, his 14th rushing TD of the season, tied Curtis Martin (in both 1995 and ‘96) for the most in a season in Patriots history. The record actually belongs to LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 18 touchdowns in ‘16. But Catalon quickly corrected it, and hey, it’s always nice to hear a mention of Martin’s too-brief time with the Patriots. Like I said, not much to complain about.


Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence versus Patriots pass defense

Lawrence’s talent is as obvious as it was during his storied career at Clemson. But for all of his arm strength and mobility, he has no chance right now, and it’s not entirely due to the lack of talent around him. Lawrence threw three interceptions Sunday, giving him an NFL-worst 17; Myles Bryant picked him off midway through the second quarter, Jackson got him just before halftime, and Kyle Dugger intercepted him in the third. The Bryant pick came on a pass that ricocheted off his receivers hands, but the other two picks occurred in part because Lawrence locked in on one receiver. He was lucky the Patriots picked him off only three times. Ja’Whaun Bentley dropped one in the first quarter that Dugger would have had a play on if Bentley didn’t get there first.



Wilkerson wasn’t the only Patriots receiver to have a productive day. Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne combined for 13 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown … Dont’a Hightower helped set the tone early, charging up the middle to sack Lawrence for a 9-yard loss on the Jaguars’ second play from scrimmage. It was Hightower’s first full sack since Week 15 of the 2019 season, when he compiled 1½ sacks against the Bills … CBS paid proper homage to the late John Madden a couple of times during the broadcast, including a classic clip from the 1990 NFC Championship game between the Giants and Niners in which Belichick, New York’s defensive coordinator, was shown drawing on his clipboard while talking to his players. Madden, with his usual good-natured insight, said, “One thing you learn as a defensive coach is, you learn to draw upside down.” He then gives Belichick, then just 38, his endorsement. “This guy is a very good coach. And they’re talking about him as a possible head coach in the National Football League this year.” Less than a month later, the Browns hired him.


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