One of the biggest storylines heading into the New England Patriots’ training camp this summer is the development of second-year quarterback Mac Jones. A first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2021, Jones showed considerable promise during his rookie campaign — earning the starting job and leading the team back to the playoffs.
Entering his second training camp as a pro, Jones is therefore in line to make the leap associated with sophomore players. Him doing so would go a long way towards New England’s offense following suit this season.
Time will tell whether he will succeed, but the Patriots apparently feel confident in his outlook — at least if the team’s head coach is to be believed.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday morning, Bill Belichick was asked about Jones’ development. The future Hall of Famer went on to give a glowing review of the young passer and what he has accomplished so far this offseason.
“Mac’s done a great job,” Belichick said. “He’s worked extremely hard. He’s got a tremendous work ethic in all areas. I think there’s a dramatic improvement. His physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of the opponent defenses, of situations, all those things. ...
“He’s worked hard, he’s made tremendous strides. He did a great job last year, but he’s starting from a much, much higher point this year than where he started last year. His offseason work has been significant and I think everyone recognizes how well he prepares and how much further along he is than he was a year ago.”
Jones arrived in New England as the 15th overall selection in last year’s draft, entering a competition with incumbent starter Cam Newton. He eventually ended up winning it, leading to Newton’s release and the first-year QB starting all 18 of the Patriots’ games.
Along the way, the Alabama product completed 67.3 percent of hiss pass attempts for 4,033 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Playing 96.2 percent of New England’s offensive snaps, he was the undisputed leader of the unit despite the occasional hiccups and rookie growing pains.
Now in Year 2, Belichick believes that Jones is in a “much further advanced” position compared to last summer.
“The plays that we talk about or the concepts that we talk about, Mac’s already done before,” Belichick said. “It’s easy for him to say, ‘Are we going to do this on that? Are we going to do this on something else? What do you think about splitting them a little bit wider, splitting them a little bit tighter?’ — suggestions like that. That type of thing comes up all the time. Now it comes up with the background of the experience of doing that.
“He might have had some of the same questions last year, but without really having the full knowledge that he has this year. He’s just a lot further along in the conversation, and we have a much better feel for what he can do, what his strengths are, and how to try to play into those. He’s self-aware too, he knows what he does well. And so, we want to feature this, but there are also things that we can work on to improve.”
Jones already showcased his growth during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp in spring, taking full command of the New England offense. With training camp now on the horizon, it is all about building on this momentum and carrying it into the regular season.
Based on Belichick’s statements, the 23-year-old is appears to be in a good position to do just that.