As the New England Patriots took the field at Palm Beach Atlantic University for Wednesday’s practice, they did so for the first time this season with team captains. Among the six that Bill Belichick announced prior to practice was second-year quarterback Mac Jones.
“I think it’s really cool. I have a lot of work to do. I want to become an even better leader, and I think we have great guys around us that make everything better,” Jones said on Wednesday.
“I’m going to learn from the older guys like I did when I first got here and continue to do that. Hopefully, some of the younger guys can come to me with issues or things they want to get fixed or things they are struggling with, and I’ll be happy to help anyone on our team.”
Throughout the offseason, Jones’ leadership has been praised by his fellow teammates. Despite the challenges he has worked through when learning a new offense surrounded by a new assortment of coaches, Jones’ effort and demand for perfection never wavered.
“His leadership has been crazy this year,” Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers said last week. “He’s always in the building, and he knows what he wants. It’s been helpful for us. We are just trying to make sure we are there for him.”
Jones’ increased leadership was noticeable even before the Patriots took the field for training camp. After Robert Kraft noted in the offseason that Jones played the “respectful” rookie role last year, he started to show “a little more edge” entering year two.
“It’s just at another level now,” receiver Kendrick Bourne told ESPN’s Mike Reiss back in June. “He’s more comfortable, more confident. He knows what’s going on, and the muscle memory is there [from having gone through it] — OTAs, then camp, and the season. He’s just more locked in, more secure in his position.”
Even for newcomers such as wide receiver DeVante Parker, Jones’ leadership immediately stood out.
“He’s a young guy but he’s developed as a leader. That’s what this team needs,” said receiver DeVante Parker earlier this offseason. “I’ve only been here a few weeks, but I still see it.”
While Jones earning captain duties comes as no surprise, the quarterback himself is not too focused on titles.
“Titles are titles. Really good leaders lead no matter what. If they’re the number one guy or not, it doesn’t matter,” Jones said. “They’re good leaders. I think it’s great, but you just have to be yourself, and that’s what is important to me.
“I just need to continue to grow and try to figure out how to get better as a player, as a leader, and as a person. It comes with time, experience, and learning lessons.”
Besides Jones, center David Andrews was the other captain named on the offensive side of the ball. Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater were named captains for the 12th time in their career, while Ja’Whaun Bentley (second time), and Deatrich Wise Jr. (first time) also earned the honors.