To paraphrase iconic American author Mark Twain, ‘Reports of the New England Patriots demise have been greatly exaggerated.”
Winners of six straight, the Patriots continue to flex their muscle in the AFC. Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans placed the Pats in the second slot in the AFC Playoff picture, with a tough test looming on Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. During their six-game winning streak, the Patriots have averaged 35 points per game (211 points scored), and allowed an average of just 11 points per game (63 points allowed). Perhaps even more impressive is their allowance of just 13 points in the second half during that stretch. As long as New England combines great coaching with smart, complementary football on both sides of the ball, they will continue to remain among the AFC’s best teams heading into the 2021 postseason.
Despite the solid team effort, individual accolades are also being deservedly bestowed upon a handful of Patriots. For their stellar performances in the month of November, cornerback J.C. Jackson has been named the league’s Defensive Player of the Month, while rookie quarterback Mac Jones has been chosen as Offensive Rookie of the Month.
J.C. Jackson — Defensive Player of the Month, November 2021
Jackson totaled six passes defensed, a forced fumble and a league-high four interceptions during the month of November, including an 88-yard interception-return for a touchdown in Week Nine, against the Carolina Panthers. In total, he has compiled 34 solo tackles, seven interceptions and leads the NFL with 16 passes-defensed.
Throughout his time in Foxboro, Jackson has routinely demonstrated an impressive instinct for finding the football, while keeping his targets in range and maintaining a visual on opposing quarterbacks. The 26-year-old has demonstrated the ability to be a formidable force at the position for many years to come.
This is the first Defensive Player of the Month award for Jackson and he joins Eugene Wilson (September, 2004), Devin McCourty (September, 2019) and Stephon Gilmore (October, 2019) as the New England defensive backs to earn the honor.
Jackson joins linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (September, 2011) as the only former Maryland players to win Defensive Player of the Month.
Mac Jones — Offensive Rookie of the Month, November 2021
Through his first twelve games, Jones’ stellar performance has placed him atop his peers in contending for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The 23-year-old has completed greater than 70 percent of his passes on the season, compiling 16 touchdowns on 2850 passing yards. As a result, he has been the ideal steward of New England’s timing-based passing game, predicated on vertical routes and completions from quick, accurate throws.
In the month of November, Jones completed 76 of 99 passes (76.8 percent) for 854 passing yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions for a 117.2 rating, leading the Patriots to a 4-0 record.
Jones’ passer rating (117.2 – first), completion percentage (76.8 percent – second) and passing touchdowns (seven – tied-fifth) all rank among the top-five in the NFL since Week Nine. His 142.1 rating in Week Ten (vs. Cleveland Browns) was the fifth-highest single-game passer rating by a rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era (with a minimum of 20 attempts).
Jones joins wide receiver Deion Branch (September, 2002) as the only Patriots to win Offensive Rookie of the Month. He joins Steelers running back Najee Harris (October) as former Alabama players to earn the award this season and is the first former Alabama quarterback to win the award.
Overall, it is the third and fourth NFL honor for the Patriots in 2021. Defensive back Adrian Phillips was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Patriots 27-24 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Eight. Kicker Nick Folk was named Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the win over the Houston Texans in Week Five.
The Patriots will travel to Orchard Park, New York for a Monday Night date with their divisional-rival Buffalo Bills; a matchup which may have major implications on the pursuit of the 2021 AFC East title. The Pats and Bills will meet on Monday, December 6 at Highmark Stadium, with kickoff set for 8:20 pm ET
(Statistics, Info provided by NFL.com, Patriots.com)