Mac Jones’ fine mind lets Patriots put it all on him in 2022

Mac Jones’ fine mind lets Patriots put it all on him in 2022

When the Patriots selected Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick last April, it was an announcement that he was going to be THE GUY. He would be their leader, their big toe, the player that the rest of the attack would eliminate and train.

Ideally, he would be able to take on the leadership and the workload while being good at playing the position.

Being Patriot “good” at quarterbacking isn’t just “big arm/makes all the throws.” It means being able to think position. Pre-hanging. During the fall. With option route variables and all sorts of vital situational information circulating in the brain. Do this. Then, toss a ball with precision to some of the fastest humans on the planet who are covered by equally fast humans. While the greatest humans on the planet try to crush you.

Jones did it all, beating a former NFL MVP in Cam Newton to win the job at camp, then playing well enough to help lead the Patriots to the playoffs and to the Pro Bowl.

“Mac Jones as a rookie, they put it all on him,” NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms said when he revealed his 2022 quarterback rankings. a system and a team and a city and a fanbase can be on a quarterback.

“… [He’s] possibly the best rookie decision maker I’ve ever seen.”

The dominant offseason story for the Patriots was how Bill Belichick chose to replace longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Joe Judge, who has never coached quarterbacks, is the team’s quarterbacks coach. Matt Patricia, who has never been an offensive player or a coordinated offense, seems on track to do both things.

How can the Patriots put second-year Mac’s tender fate in the hands of coaches who — to put it simply — haven’t presented themselves as offensive coaches? Maybe it’s because they think Jones can handle it. Because he’s taken care of everything else so far.

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During the Patriots’ two minicamp practices this week, Jones’ absurd accuracy was on display. Not just on simple pitch-and-catch throws, but repeatedly on contested throws down in tiny windows.

Virtually every player makes a jump in their second season. He settled. His nutrition has improved. Expectations are understood. The jump Jones will make is from a higher platform. He already showed an astonishing mastery of the most difficult things.

Simms, who has Jones 18th on his list, marvels at Mac’s spirit.

“He had to play a real system without being managed or massaged,” Simms said. “(The request was) ‘You really have to be a Week 1 pro quarterback. I have to be able to run two minutes and we have to rely on you to throw an accurate 5-yard pass like Brady did in Year 15. That’s basically what he was asked to do, with no threats on the pitch to scare people off.

“When I came back and watched it was better than I remembered. Incredible precision. Incredible touch. Incredible anticipation. Would I like his arm to be a little stronger and explosive Sure. But coming back and looking at all of his throws, I went, “Hmmm. His arm is better than I imagined in my head at times.” I’ve made a lot of big throws on the court with not necessarily high caliber players. Lots of big throws dropped and balls where you go, ‘Man, the ball is on the f——money here…and they didn’t make the play to help it.’

Teammates take note of Mac Jones’ leadership ahead of second season

Simms ranked Jones directly ahead of Carson Wentz and two ahead of potential Brady successor Jimmy Garoppolo. Jones was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2021 class with Zach Wilson of the Jets at 22 and Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence close behind. Tua Tagovailoa, Jared Goff and Trey Lance were 29, 30 and 31.

Simms allowed Lawrence, for example, to improve and overtake Jones. But, added Simms, “I think this guy is going to get better too. This guy is smart. I hear what he’s saying. He realizes he needs to throw the ball a little bit more power and strength and be a bit more explosive. I wouldn’t. Don’t be shocked if we didn’t see a leap like Joe Burrow’s (Year 1 through Year 2).”

I asked Bill Belichick this week about Jones’ role in shaping the Patriots’ newly streamlined offense. Is Jones a collaborator to some degree?

“We’ll really do everything we can to make it as good as possible for him – he’s our quarterback. There’s a lot of elements to that, I don’t know,” Belichick said.

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots offense evolves this year. Jones goes from McDaniels, the league’s most experienced and accomplished offensive coordinator, to a pair of coaches who — despite their age — have never been more fully immersed in offense at the NFL level than Jones. was in 2021.

When the Patriots took Jones 15th, it was clear they would tie their cart to him one day. It’s already arrived. And now it’s in tow mode. The Pats likely won’t be propelled by defense in 2022. They don’t have top skill players. They will go as far as Jones’ precise arm and fine mind can take them. And they seem really comfortable with it.

Curran on Jones’ burden in 2022

McDaniels allowed Jones to drive fast and take risks. Which still leaves Simms speechless.

“The Patriots trusted Mac Jones more than the 49ers trusted Garoppolo or the Colts trusted Wentz,” Simms said. “There’s no doubt about it. The way they called plays in certain situations. The plays they called in those situations just told me they trusted Mac Jones.

“Too many times with Garoppolo, they had two shaky games in a row and just said, ‘It’s third and 5, let’s just throw a f—— screen and if we get it, great. If we don’t, we reject it. Same with Wentz, “Let’s block him out and send somebody deep and let him throw it over there.”

“And then it’s Mac Jones,” Simms continued. “Third and 4, and they’re like, ‘Let’s call this fucking game where on the left side we’re faking a tilt and the guy comes out and there’ll be a guy running an out. Tell him to read this. What if he doesn’t like it, he can come back to midfield and we’ll still have two or three guys going into a tight area there and we want him to make that throw.

“To me, that’s where the difference between him and Wentz is,” Simms said. “His talent is not as good as Wentz at the moment but he is much more trustworthy with the ball, he is more precise. With Garoppolo I think he is already more talented and smarter.”

When the Patriots took Jones 15th, it was clear they would tie their cart to him one day. It’s already arrived. And now it’s in tow mode. The Patriots likely won’t be propelled by defense in 2022. They don’t have transcendent players in skill positions. They will go as far as Jones’ precise arm and fine mind can take them. And they seem really comfortable with it.

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