Rex Ryan among ESPN analysts to reluctantly give Mac Jones ‘total credit’ despite Patriots’ loss

Morning Sports Update

Ryan acknowledged that “peashooter” Jones looked good.

Mac Jones Rex Ryan comments
Mac Jones during the Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Eagles. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Dan Orlovsky’s take on Mac Jones and the Patriots’ passing game: Following the Patriots’ 25-20 loss to the Eagles in Sunday’s season-opener, plenty of postgame attention focused on the mistakes New England made (especially in the first quarter).

Taking the longer view of the situation, ESPN analysts had a more heartening view of the Patriots looking at the rest of the 2023 season. During a Monday morning “Get Up!” segment, NFL analysts Dan Orlovsky and Rex Ryan credited Bill Belichick’s team despite the final score.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to New England,” said Ryan in reference to the defensive game plan. “They challenge those guys on the outside.”

“New England’s passing game looked better than Philadelphia’s, by far,” Orlovsky offered. “I think if you watched how the game happened, the weather has to be a part of this conversation.”

Asked if Mac Jones’s interception — which Philadelphia returned for a touchdown — was a case of bad decision making, Orlovsky was sympathetic to the New England quarterback.

“No, this is the right place to go with the football, it’s the right timing,” Orlovsky explained, citing rainy conditions and bad luck for the ultimate outcome.

“But this is a right decision and the right place to go for Mac Jones,” he added, viewing the play again. “I think the weather played a factor.”

On balance, Orlovsky said that Jones overcame the elements better than the defending NFC champions.

“Both teams played in it,” he said of the rain. “Mac Jones threw the ball better than Jalen Hurts yesterday.”

Despite the Eagles’ apparent talent advantage (Philadelphia entered the game as favorites), it was the Patriots’ early mistakes that proved to be the difference.

“The truth is, if not for the pick-six and the [Ezekiel Elliott] fumble, Philadelphia goes on the road and loses that game,” Orlovsky observed.

Ryan, who has made no secret in the past of the fact that he doesn’t think highly of Jones as an NFL quarterback — dismissively labeling him as having a “peashooter” arm in 2021 — walked back some of his criticism.

“Look, ‘peashooter’ Jones looked good, and I’m going to give him total credit,” Ryan admitted. “Oh my God, that looked like a real offense and he looked so much more confident and that’s what it’s all about.”

With new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien calling plays, Ryan was impressed with the Patriots’ plan.

“Now look, we’re not showing two other balls that could’ve been picked in that game as well,” he said of Jones. “I’m not putting the dude in the Hall of Fame, stop it, but they looked like they had a real offense.”

Taking a step back from the game analysis, Orlovsky revisited an offseason subplot, and what might have been had the Patriots managed to sign DeAndre Hopkins prior to the start of the season.

Though he liked the play-calling and Jones’s performance, Orlovsky had a specific message for the Patriots’ front office.

“That’s my takeaway for New England,” he said. “I wish you would’ve gotten DeAndre Hopkins.”

Still, Orlovsky did acknowledge that his opinion could change during the season, but only “if [Demario] Doulgas and [Kayshon] Boutte can come along” and continue to develop.

Scores and schedule:

The Patriots lost to the Eagles 25-20 on Sunday as the NFL season got underway. New England will host the Dolphins in Week 2 on Sunday night at 8:20 p.m.

The Red Sox won yesterday, defeating the Orioles 7-3 to avoid a three-game sweep.

Trivia: Rex Ryan’s first game as an NFL head coach came in Week 1 of the 2009 season in which his Jets defeated the Texans 24-7. Can you name the Jets leading rusher from that day?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: He was originally picked seventh overall by the Cardinals in 2000.

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Devin McCourty’s reaction to the Patriots’ loss: The former New England safety offered his response to the Week 1 defeat.

On this day: In 1918, the Red Sox won the World Series in six games over the Cubs. Starting pitcher Carl Mays threw a complete game gem, allowing just three hits and one run in a 2-1 win. Held earlier in the season due to American involvement in World War I, it remains the only World Series ever played in September.

The win would also prove to be a notable (and, eventually, infamous) date for Boston fans: The Red Sox would not win another World Series after 1918 for 86 years.

Daily highlight: Patriots tight end Hunter Henry delivered one of the better catches of Week 1 on a fourth down conversion.

Trivia answer: Thomas Jones