The solid debut of Mac Jones helped ease the sting of an opening day loss to a division rival. After an impressive summer, the rookie carried his play over into a real game and continues to grow into the full role as a starting NFL quarterback and everything that comes with it.
Jones was tough on himself in his postgame presser, "I think being the quarterback, I need to do a better job, demanding better in practice. Sometimes I just let things slide, myself included. That's not good enough. So I'm going to try and be more vocal, and I am a vocal person, but it's kind of a new situation, and I can be better."
The rookie's accountability stood out as, even in defeat, he said all the right things off the field. It shouldn't be surprising that there's a renewed excitement in New England and that includes offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
"I think he's a very competitive guy," said offensive coordinator McDaniels on Tuesday. "He wants to win at everything that he's doing and he wants to perform his best every single day on every single rep. I think that's a great trait and a great quality to have, not only as a football player but as a human being. We're fortunate that he feels that way relative to pushing himself and demanding the most from himself. I think that's obviously the number one way to lead.
"I'm eager to continue to work with him in every area. And like I said, I'm excited that he certainly wasn't happy with the outcome the other day, and is looking forward to preparing hard for the Jets."
Since the start of the summer, Jones has rapidly accumulated a ton of NFL experience. From two sets of joint practices, daily training camp sessions against a smart veteran defense, three preseason games and now his first NFL start, it's been a crash course but Jones has stayed afloat.
But the value of the one-point loss to the Dolphins was the most invaluable yet.
"There were positives in the game for sure, some things he learned, some things that he did well," said McDaniels. "Certainly, the speed of the game in the regular season's different than the pre-season. He'll adapt to that and then he'll continue to improve his communication, his ability to see things quickly, and the decisions that he makes hopefully will improve along the way as well."
Now, with a game's worth of valuable experience in his pocket, it's on to the New York Jets and the quarterback that was drafted 13 spots before Jones in what could be a new brewing quarterback rivalry.
Running backs bounce back?
With fumbles from both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris coming in the game against the Dolphins, it must be a rough week to be a running back in Ivan Fears' room.
Fears still seemed in shock from the dramatic twist after Harris' fumble.
"The one thing we preach about more than anything in the world is ball security," said Fears. "It was like the classic thing that you wouldn't expect to happen, that we would actually give the ball away, give the damn game away by turning the ball over in the last few minutes of the game when we were in scoring position. That's a hard one, that's a hard one to accept, and for Damien that stings like a son of a gun."
Harris has earned a degree of trust by showing good ball security through his first two seasons, but rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has not.
"You have to understand how important that ball is," said Fears. "I hope he learns from Damien on the situation, how devastating it is when you give up the ball. He's got to learn that no matter when the ball comes out, even though you may think you're down, the evidence doesn't always back you. So you have to hand the ball to the official, is what you gotta do. That should be your goal. You get tackled, you're the one handing the ball to the official after every time you touch it. That's the way he's got to approach it, he's got to learn that lesson."
With the team expected back on the practice field on Wednesday, there's no more time to lament the fumbles.
"We get to play again," said Fears. "That's the only good thing we got going here, we get to play again, and again and again, and hopefully we get to put this one behind us with some doggone solid play and dependable play."
Quotes of Note
Jerod Mayo on how the defense will continue to evolve:
"I would definitely say the team's going to look a lot different in October and November than we do in September. We're still trying to find our way, still trying to figure out what we are as a defense, who fits where best. We're still in that process now."