Mac Jones may be the New England Patriots’ quarterback of the future, but participating in his first round of organized team activities he is still just a rookie trying to learn the playbook and get comfortable within one of the most complex offenses in the NFL. Along the way, he also is building the foundation for what projects to be a healthy training camp competition at the position.
The Patriots did not just re-sign incumbent starter Cam Newton and veteran backup Brian Hoyer earlier during the offseason, they also still have third-year man Jarrett Stidham in the fold as well. Add Jones, the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft, to the mix as well and you get a depth chart with no single spot set in stone.
At the moment, however, Jones is not concerned about competing for any roles or the like. His focus is on getting better, both individually and as a group.
“Really, we’re just coming in every day,” the Alabama product said during a media conference call following Thursday’s practice.
“There’s four guys total, and I’m the rookie, so I’m just learning from them. They’ve all been very nice to me, treated me very well. I’m just trying to help them out as best as I can to do whatever I can do. We’re all in this together, so it’s not like there’s competition. People want to have a misconstrued word there, like it’s bad competition or unhealthy, but we’re all close and we’re all going to get better together. That’s what we’re going to do.”
As opposed to Jones, the three other quarterbacks currently under contract all bring considerable experience in the system to the table. Newton started 15 games last year; Hoyer is in his eighth offseason with the Patriots; Stidham has been with the club ever since getting drafted in the fourth round in 2019.
Naturally, all three will not just be competing for jobs but also serving as mentors for Jones.
“It’s been good,” the 22-year-old said about his relationship with Newton. “He calls me Mac and Cheese, so I got my nickname. He’s done an awesome job being a good mentor. He brings great energy.
“Brian and Jarrett have done a good job helping me in the film room. All three of them, just watch their reps and learn as much as I can. You don’t have to be in on that play to learn, so I just have to figure out how to do that. I’ve been getting a lot better just watching tape and learning how to do that, and they’ve helped me in that regard.”
Jones is a lock to make the Patriots’ roster this year, but it remains to be seen whether he will also earn the starting or at least the top backup role. He showed some promise during the three OTA practices open to reporters so far and the team has spoken highly about his development, but he naturally still has plenty of ground to make up.
Stidham and Hoyer, meanwhile, received considerably more opportunities during team drills on Thursday: with Newton remaining out due to a hand injury suffered the previous week, they were called up as the first two players in the rotation ahead of Jones.
The rookie, on the other hand, does not seem worried about his positioning at the moment. Instead, his focus is on getting better.
“I have a lot of room to grow and I have to make strides every day,” Jones said. “I kind of have two buckets: The things I know, I keep in one bucket, and the things that I keep messing up or the things I’m not getting, I have to put them in another bucket and figure out what’s wrong. I got to take that approach and learn from all the quarterbacks. So, it’s not just me. Learn from the older guys on the team and watch them practice and learn how to practice the best way I can so that when we get to the games, it will be easier.”