FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Whatever the New England Patriots’ offense looks like in the aftermath of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ departure, Bill Belichick is clear about one thing: Mac Jones will have a say in molding it.
“Certainly, he’ll have input,” Belichick said of the second-year quarterback Tuesday on the eve of him beginning his second training camp.
“There’s always an element of all of us working together. … Still we’re starting a new stage here from moving into offseason to in-season so there’s just differences. We need to all build into that.”
Last year Jones entered camp as wide-eyed as any rookie quarterback, looking to learn as much as he could from then-incumbent starter Cam Newton.
Jones proved himself not only to be a quick study in his first pro system, but showed the coaching staff enough proficiency to ultimately supplant Newton for the starting job.
After enduring some typical first-year growing pains, he grew more comfortable throughout a rookie season that saw him pass for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while leading his team to 10 regular-season wins and a playoff berth.
Now he’ll have to try to build on Year 1 without McDaniels after he left to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
For now, at least, Belichick hasn’t announced a replacement. Joe Judge has rejoined the team after being fired as the New York Giants head coach and has the title of offensive assistant/quarterbacks. He worked primarily with Jones during minicamp, and both Judge and senior football adviser Matt Patricia spent time calling offensive plays.
Whomever winds up being the primary voice for Jones early this season, the former Alabama star clearly spent time working on his conditioning, as evidenced in the more toned physique he debuted during offseason workouts.
He’ll also have more playmakers to throw to this upcoming season after Belichick added receiver DeVante Parker and drafted Tyquan Thornton, who clocked the fastest 40-yard dash time during the NFL combine.
All that is secondary, though, to the confidence veteran Devin McCourty said he’s already seen from Jones since the start of their offseason program.
“I think the longer it’s been, he’s just being himself,” McCourty said. “I think when Mac got here he was trying to make sure he checked every box. He was working hard, he was in here early, he was staying late. He was almost trying to be so buttoned up I think at different points last year he had different guys telling him to just be himself.”
He’s seeing signs Jones is beginning to be comfortable doing that.
“I think that’s what he’s done,” McCourty said. “You’ve seen his goofy side, having fun — that’s what this is all about. The sooner players can get to that, obviously for him — quarterback (and) leader of the team. …that’s what we’ve seen so far. I’m excited for him.”