If you just looked at the stat sheet and moved on from there, Mac Jones had an relatively average start to his career in his first preseason action against the Washington Football Team in his new home at Gillette Stadium.

Jones relieved Cam Newton during the final minute of the first quarter. While his final stat line was an unremarkable 13-for-19 for 87 yards, he looked poised and comfortable, and it seemed that the Patriots offense hit another gear when Jones entered.

One of the first throws Jones made was a beautifully thrown deep bomb in the end zone to Kristian Wilkerson, who could not quite haul it in. Had he been able to make the play, Jones would have finished 14-of-19 for 121 yards and a touchdown.

In an small sample of just a couple of drives, Newton completed 4-of-7 passes for 49 yards and the offense looked eerily similar to the putrid unit that Newton led last year.

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When Jones entered, it seemed like the passing game was delivered a spark that it painfully lacked with Newton for all of 2020 and in his two drives Thursday evening.

The most telling stat of the night from the two quarterbacks however was their average pass length. In Jones' attempts, his average pass length was 7.2 yards. Newton, who struggled mightily for all of 2020 moving the Patriots offense down the field with his arm, had an average pass length of just 0.3 yards.

While Patriots and Alabama fans alike should certainly be excited about the debut of Jones, expectations should be tempered a bit as it is just a small sample size in a not very meaningful game.

With that being said however, Jones undoubtedly gained a leg up on Newton in a quarterback battle that unquestionably now appears to be more of an open competition than it did a few weeks ago.

With two more preseason games and plenty of practice to go before the season begins, Mac Jones has certainly given himself a shot to win the starting job for week 1. Regardless of who wins the job to start the season, Thursday night revealed that the question of Jones taking over as the Patriots starting QB is not an if, but a when.

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