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Mac Jones better prepare to spend a sizable chunk of his signing bonus money over the coming weeks. At least, that would be a smart move for the impressive rookie to make.

After all, while there’s no doubt Jones has delivered rock-solid results in his first year with the New England Patriots, he can’t take all the credit for his success. And as much praise as Josh McDaniels deserves for putting his 23-year-old signal-caller in advantageous positions, he doesn’t get paid to run routes, carry the ball, or execute blocks.

However, a few of Jones’ teammates have worked together to accomplish an impressive feat that’s totally transformed the course of the Patriots’ season. And with Christmas right around the corner, he should reward their efforts with some well-earned gifts.

Mac Jones set a new career-high in passing yards while leading the Patriots to their sixth straight win

The Patriots secured their sixth straight victory Sunday by sending Mike Vrabel’s squad back to Tennessee with a 36-13 loss. Facing a Titans defense that only surrendered 190 total yards the week prior, Mac Jones and Co. finished six yards shy of putting up 400 in a game that surprisingly remained a one-score affair until deep in the third quarter.

Although Bill Belichick watched his first-year quarterback miss a few key throws (most notably a potential touchdown to Hunter Henry in the red zone), he had to be pleased with a turnover-free performance that included a career-high 310 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Jones didn’t have a perfect day at the office, but it’s hard to be overly critical of a player who completed nearly 72% of his attempts in a 23-point victory over a Tennessee team that entered Gillette Stadium with an 8-3 record.

With a rock-solid 16:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 97.1 quarterback rating, and an 8-4 record as a starter, he undoubtedly deserves consideration for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Meanwhile, the Patriots seem poised to make a deep playoff run, especially with the way they’ve performed in their last six games.

And Jones can thank his most important teammates for helping alter the course of the 2021 season.

The rookie quarterback’s protection squad deserves some well-earned Christmas gifts for an impressive run of dominance

Offensive linemen rarely get much love. However, the Patriots’ group of big-bodied blockers deserve some time in the spotlight and some rewards for stepping up since October.

In fact, Jones should buy each member of his protection squad an expensive Christmas gift as a way to show appreciation for keeping him out of harm’s way at an unparalleled level.

According to a tweet from CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar, New England’s offensive line ranks No. 1 in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking efficiency metric during the team’s six-game winning streak. Jones has only been under pressure on 22.9% of his drop-backs, which ranks third in the NFL.

Getting improved play up front has played a pivotal role in the Patriots going from pretenders to contenders. Earlier in the season, their offensive line looked overmatched, confused, and downright awful at times. But the unit has rounded into form at exactly the right time, especially with a healthy version of Trent Brown at right tackle.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that New England ranks seventh in scoring at 28 points per game given the strong play of a group that also includes the veteran tandem of center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason. With the line excelling at holding pass rushers at bay, opening holes for Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, and making blocks in space on screens, the offense suddenly seems capable of winning a championship.

Yet that doesn’t mean the Patriots can afford to rest on their laurels.

After all, they still have to take care of business against two teams that also have Super Bowl aspirations.

New England’s offensive line faces a tough final stretch of the regular season

New England’s offensive line has transformed from a weakness into a strength, but that group will be put to the test in the coming weeks.

The Patriots have vaulted up power rankings largely by taking advantage of depleted opponents. Their next opponent, however, boasts one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.

A Monday Night Football matchup against the Buffalo Bills represents a massive test for Belichick’s squad. Can the Patriots control the line of scrimmage against a team that ranks second in points allowed? Or will Sean McDermott scheme up ways to make Jones look like an overmatched rookie?

Moreover, can Belichick press the right buttons on defense to expose Josh Allen? The 6-foot-5, 237-pound quarterback possesses incredible physical gifts, but he hasn’t been nearly as effective as he was a year ago. Still prone to making costly turnovers in key moments, the 25-year-old could be in for a rough day against a Patriots defense that leads the league in interceptions (19) and points allowed (15.8 per game).

Not only does New England have to face Buffalo twice, but it also has to take on a red-hot Indianapolis Colts team that has plenty of star power in the form of MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Darius Leonard, and Comeback Player of the Year candidate Carson Wentz.

So, even though the Patriots have put themselves in a position to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC, things could change quickly over the coming weeks. But if Mac Jones continues to have time to throw and his running backs have room to run, don’t be surprised if they have 10 wins by Christmas.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.


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