The difference between Lamar Jackson and Mac Jones against the blitz was staggering
September 26th, 2022
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots attempts a pass during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
One of Mac Jones’ biggest problems this season has been his decision-making under pressure.
Jones threw three more interceptions on Sunday against the Ravens, with no passing touchdowns. Two of Jones’ picks came against the blitz. The Ravens actually didn’t blitz Jones as much as you might think; we charted them for blitzes on just 29.7 percent of Jones’ dropbacks.
When they did blitz, though, they mostly had success. Jones was 3-of-7 for 73 yards and two interceptions against the blitz, which amounts to an abysmal 41.7 passer rating.
Jackson against the blitz? He was 9-of-14 for 111 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, according to NFL NextGen Stats. That’s a 128.3 passer rating. It was Jackson’s second game in a row with three touchdowns against the blitz. Oh, and this came with the Pats blitzing him on 49.7 percent of his dropbacks.
The easiest way to contrast the two quarterbacks against the blitz is with a pair of red zone plays. Above, you can see Jackson get off a well-placed throw to Devin Duvernay for a touchdown.
Compare that to Jones’ end zone interception, which came off his back foot and went into triple-coverage, where Marlon Humphrey out-fought DeVante Parker to get in position for the pick.
Parker appeared to run the wrong route, while everyone else was on the same page. But it was still a bad decision by Jones to heave the ball up in that spot, when a throwaway would’ve at least given the Patriots a chance to kick a field goal or go for it on fourth down.
“Just knowing when to call it quits and put the good plays out there,” Jones said on the end zone interception, when asked how he balances going for big plays with managing the game. “I did that a lot yesterday. We did that a lot. It’s just the more consistent we can do it, the more opportunity that we won’t even be in that situation. So just trying to get more good plays out there. Trying to do it right every time.”
The bigger story with Jones, now, is his health. He reportedly suffered a high-ankle sprain, a serious injury that typically requires players to miss time. But on the field, his decision-making when facing pressure has to improve.
It’s unfortunate and probably a little unfair to compare his performance to that of Jackson, who now leads the NFL in touchdown passes and looks like an MVP candidate this season. But it’s the reality of the situation. If Jones can’t play better under pressure, he won’t have much of a chance at getting better.
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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 @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.