Sunday’s season-opening showdown between the Patriots and Eagles will see two former Alabama quarterbacks face off in Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones.
Both Hurts and Jones spent two seasons together in Tuscaloosa, with Jones third on the depth chart as a redshirt freshman in 2018 behind Tua Tagovailoa and Hurts.
Jones finally made the most of his opportunity as a junior in 2020 after both Tagovailoa and Hurts (who transferred to Oklahoma in 2019) made the jump up to the NFL ranks.
As the Crimson Tide’s full-time starter, Jones threw for 41 touchdowns, completed 77.4 percent of his pass attempts, and threw four interceptions for a 13-0 Alabama squad that went on to win a national championship.
Since joining Tagovailoa and Hurts in the NFL ranks, Jones has gone through his fair share of ups and downs in New England. After earning a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie in 2021, he regressed in Matt Patricia’s offense in 2022, tossing 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over 14 games.
But even watching from afar, Hurts noted on Wednesday that Jones has always possessed qualities that would pave the way for future success in the pro game.
“Mac has always been a great competitor,” Hurts said Wednesday. “Had a hunger for the game and just learning, always challenging himself. I’m looking forward to him doing big things this year.”
This is not the first time Hurts has offered up some praise for Jones and his mettle as an NFL quarterback.
Shortly after the Patriots selected Jones with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Hurts said that his teammate’s poise and patience while waiting his turn on the Crimson Tide’s depth chart was going to pay dividends at the next level.
“Mac Jones, he had the opportunity — I think the best way you can learn is to watch,” Hurts told WVTM 13 Birmingham back in June 2021. “Watch, take note of those around you, kind of learn the lay of the land, if you will, and learn that way.
“Mac had a very unique college career where he had to stay patient, and it worked out for him. And I’m happy it did. He was able to watch me, (and) Tua go through that, get him some burn here and there, and ultimately when it was his time, he took off with it. And now he has a great opportunity for his future.”
The Patriots’ signal caller has a long way to go to catch up to Hurts, who finished second in NFL MVP voting last season after scoring 35 total touchdowns (22 passing, 13 rushing) and throwing just six picks for the NFC champion Eagles.
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