New England Patriots

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) walks off the field against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

How about this for a Tom Brady comparison? If you’re one of the eager Patriots (Alabama?) fans who already bought a Mac Jones jersey, you’ve helped launch the rookie quarterback past No. 12 in terms of sales.

Based on data gathered by sports apparel giant Fanatics, Brady is “only” the No. 3 top-selling jersey in the NFL since the start of August. No. 1 is Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, which makes sense, considering he’s coming off an MVP-caliber season and the Bills have a rabid fanbase with Super Bowl aspirations for 2021. No. 4-5 on the list are another rookie QB, Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears, and Patrick Mahomes.

No. 2 on the list? Jones. So, there appears to be a renewed excitement about the Patriots. After Brady’s departure, which included a salt-in-the-wound Super Bowl win with the Buccaneers, and a 7-9 record, the Patriots (namely, Bill Belichick) needed to win back the faith of the fans.

Drafting Jones in the first round may not pan out like people are hoping, but that selection – plus the most free-agent spending in the league – showed that Belichick and the Patriots organization are committed to returning to a level of playoff contention that fans have become accustomed to over the past two decades.

Jones is most certainly aware of his status as Brady’s true successor, despite one year of Cam Newton. And of course, the inevitable comparisons, which aren’t at all fair and never will be. But Jones seems to be handling the pressure well for a rookie, so far.

“I think obviously [Brady’s] a great player, but the word ‘standard’ kind of hit me there because we all want to play to that standard – The Patriot Way,” Jones said. “Really, it comes down to just doing your job. As a quarterback, that’s leading the people around me as best I can and that’s also executing the play.”

Jones may never approach Brady in any way, shape or form, as will no one in NFL history. But at least he gets this micro-victory, before he ever even takes a snap in an NFL game.

MORE: Mac Jones holds first press conference as Patriots’ starting QB

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.