Sunday, August 14, 2022

Patriots’ Bill Belichick says he’s seen ‘dramatic improvement’ in Mac Jones heading into Year 2

The possibility of a Year 2 jump for quarterbacks is one of the more fascinating storylines heading into a given season. The fact that the 2021 NFL Draft was littered with first-round talent at the position only enhances that intrigue as we rocket towards the 2022 campaign. One of those signal-callers resides in New England in Mac Jones, who put together arguably the most impressive rookie season of his draft classmates. 

Even with that solid foundation built during his first year in the league, there is the question if he’ll be able to make the seismic jump others — like Joe Burrow last year — have done in the past. Judging by what his head coach has seen thus far, Jones appears to be a prime candidate for a sophomore leap.

“I think Mac’s done a great job. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s got a tremendous work ethic. In all areas, I think there’s a dramatic improvement,” Bill Belichick told reporters on Tuesday as Patriots veterans reported to training camp. “His physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses, of situations. … 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.”

Of course, this time last year, there was still the question of when Jones would actually play for the Patriots. When the 2021 camp opened, there was seemingly a competition between Jones and 2020 starter Cam Newton for who’d take the reins to begin the year. Ultimately, Jones won that competition, started all 17 games throughout the regular season and helped the club reach the playoffs. That experience will give him a better foundation heading into Year 2, which, in turn, should help the team be more competitive overall.  

One of the challenges Jones will face, however, is the reshaping of New England’s offense in the absence of Josh McDaniels, who departed for the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching job this offseason. Senior football advisor Matt Patricia and offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach Joe Judge are slated to man the offense this year, but Belichick did note that Jones will “certainly” have input on how they’ll mold the offense heading into the new year, especially with that year under his belt.  

“We’re just left further ahead in the conversation,” said Belichick. “The plays that we talk about or concepts that we talk about, Mac has already done before. It’s easy for him to say, ‘Are we gonna do this on that? Are we gonna 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 it.”

Not only has Jones expected to improve simply due to his experience in the NFL, but the second-year quarterback has also made “significant strides” in improving his diet as well.

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