The past few months were a whirlwind for Mac Jones. After take over as the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama and leading the school to a national title, he was selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Jones went on to beat out incumbent quarterback Cam Newton for the starting role, leading the Patriots to a 10-7 season and return to the playoffs. Along the way, he earned his first Pro Bowl nomination as a replacement player.
With his rookie season in the rearview mirror and Jones certain about his immediate future — he is New England’s undisputed starter at the quarterback position — he finally has some time to catch his breath. Talking to the Patriots’ in-house video production team on radio row ahead of Super Bowl LVI, he mentioned that fact as well.
“I think the fun part about everything in the offseason is you get a second just to catch your breath and figure everything out,” Jones said. “This has definitely been the longest year. It’s been almost two years of football. I love football and I love to keep going as best I can, but it’s always good to step away and evaluate what you can get better at, too.”
After playing second fiddle to Newton throughout most of the summer, Jones was named the starter upon the veteran getting released. He went on to start all 18 of New England’ games and put forward an encouraging performance.
Including the playoff loss in Buffalo, Jones completed 67.3 percent of his pass attempts for 4,033 yards as well as 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Now heading into his second season as a pro, the focus is on building on that foundation and growing as a player.
“I want to be back close to home in New England in the offseason, because we obviously have our place there. And just figure out ways to become a better quarterback, and then do whatever we can to put more points up on the board so we can win more games,” he said.
“I think back to my freshman year at Alabama. You’re kind of figuring everything out, and then you get older, and you’re just more experienced with everything — the media, the games, everything.”
Despite his experience, Jones still has to get used to the nature of the NFL. For example, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels left the Patriots organization earlier this offseason to take over as the Las Vegas Raiders’ new head coach. No successor has yet been named, creating some uncertainty for the second-year QB.
Nonetheless, Jones mentioned earlier this year that he would feel confident in his ability to elevate the New England offense “to the next level.”