Mac Jones’ accuracy, poise, and ability to quickly learn on the job were three major reasons why the New England Patriots were competitive during his rookie season. The former Alabama standout led all rookie QBs with 3,801 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and a 92.5 passer rating.
He finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year balloting to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Regardless, the Patriots finished 10-7 and made the playoffs behind Jones, who beat out veteran Cam Newton for the starting job.
New England Patriots QB Mac Jones building off impressive rookie year
Jones isn’t satisfied with his Year 1 achievements and has worked diligently this offseason to improve in every area, including his diet and exercise regimen, through extra work with veteran quarterback coach Tom House — who has also worked with Tom Brady — and in organizing offseason workouts with his teammates.
During organized team activities (OTAs) Monday, Jones reflected on his quest for self-improvement. That included listening closely to Patriots nutritionist Ted Harper and getting much leaner than how he entered the league.
“I learned more this offseason than I probably ever have about nutrition, sleep, wellness, all that stuff,” Jones told New England reporters. “I’m taking what I learned that I feel will help me and apply it. Just following their plan and eating healthy, taking out a lot of the things that are bad for my diet, but at the same time, maintain my weight and be able to take hits. There’s a fine balance.
“For me, I’ve definitely trimmed down on body fat a little bit, and I’ll get a chance to bulk back up before the season starts to be able to absorb the hits. My body feels good. I feel a lot better. Just trying to work and be the best quarterback I can be right now.”
Teammates are noticing a large difference in everything about Jones, including his body.
“He’s in the best shape of his life,” Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne said. “His stomach is gone, and he looks really good.”
Bill Belichick taking larger role over the offense
The Patriots’ coaching staff is much different than a year ago when Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator before being hired as the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach.
Bill Belichick is taking on a larger role with the direction of the offense along with offensive assistant Joe Judge, a former New York Giants head coach, and senior football advisor Matt Patricia, a former Detroit Lions head coach.
“Obviously, he’s a great defensive mind, but he also has great offensive knowledge,” Jones said of Belichick. “Right now, it’s all about learning and fixing the things you want to fix. It’s about the guys and I getting on the same page. It always goes back to the players, and we’re excited to grow together.”
Before the NFL draft, Jones worked closely with private coach David Morris of QB Country in Mobile, Ala. The even-keel approach Jones has applied to everything so far in his NFL career is something Morris identified a long time ago.
“Emotions can flow, Mac does a very good job of managing them,” Morris said in a telephone interview. “It’s the frame of focus. As you’re trying to execute and have successful plays, it’s all about that play and not thinking about the next drive. As long as you can stay within the play and not hover over it and be pretty locked in, you have a better chance of having success. Then, it’s over and it’s on to the next one. Every play is its own entity, so be in the moment.
“Mac is a guy who’s ultra-competitive. Mac is a guy who has persevered through a lot. Most people don’t realize his road to getting there. He’s been very patient. When your moment comes, he took advantage of it.”
Jones passed for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions in his final season for the Crimson Tide, beating Ohio State, 52-24, in the national championship as he passed for 464 yards and five touchdowns. He won the Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, and Manning awards and finished third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy, which went to teammate DeVonta Smith.
Jones made a big impression on the coaching staff as a rookie
“I think one of the things that you notice right away when you’re around him a lot is just how hard he works,” Patricia said. “He’s a very, very bright kid. He picks up the offense very quickly. He’s got just a great football mind. It was really remarkable.
“With our offensive system and the cadences and the different communications and the looks and the plays — really for a young guy — he just didn’t miss a beat. It was very, very impressive from that standpoint. And he works extremely hard. I think those are the things that just stand out.”
The major emphasis for Jones has been on honing his fundamentals and working on the nuances of his game.
“I worked a lot on my knowledge of quarterback mechanics,” Jones said. “You can never have too much knowledge. It’s training my arm a certain way.”