CB JASON MCCOURTY
May 27, 2020
Q: With the various changes to the roster, as well as to the offseason program, do you feel even more competitive to meet these new challenges?
JM: I guess so, but I look at it as it's the NFL. I mean, obviously what's going on without an offseason is a challenge and something that's going on globally. That's something that everybody is being forced to deal with, so that same question is posed to you guys and everybody that's going along with it. As far as the things to the team, as far as offensive changes, defensive changes – to me, that's just part of the NFL. There's not one year to the next that you don't go through a number of changes, whether it's personnel, whether it's coaching, whether it's scheme. There's always going to be something from one season to the next that's going to be a challenge, that's going to have change, that's going to force people to step up, force different roles on people. I think that's the unique thing about our league is each year is a new opportunity for anybody to step up and make something of themselves.
Q: How are you staying in football shape and getting ready for a season?
JM: I'm doing the same as I kind of normally would throughout the offseason. I'm one of the few guys that had an offseason injury that allows me to be in the building, so I've been able to still go about all my rehab and my things that I typically would do in the offseason. Obviously, it's different because it's not the same not having everybody there. Obviously, we're not doing OTAs, so we're not practicing, but staying in shape for me has been relatively normal this offseason.
Q: How many people have been in a similar situation rehabbing around the stadium?
JM: There's a few of us in there.
Q: Is it weird being the only guys in the stadium?
JM: At this point, no. I guess, what constitutes as weird has dramatically changed throughout the last few months. We've been in it so long that this has become rather normal to us at this point.
Q: In your two years in New England, what have you learned about how important Patrick Chung is to the defense?
JM: I mean, you talk about a guy who's been in the league for so long and also has been in the same defense for so long. Pat is a guy that plays so many roles throughout our defense that you can ask him a question, almost about any position, from D-line stuff to linebackers to safeties, and he'll pretty much know the answer. So, I think when you have a guy that's that smart and then you mix it, obviously, with his ability, you have to be pretty athletic. Obviously, he's a bigger, stronger guy that can play those roles. He's been huge. So, I know for me, getting here over these last few years, Chung came in the league the same year as I did, it's been fun to be able to be in the same meeting room, talk football with him and get to know him.
Q: As a guy who has been in the facility from a rehab perspective, going forward do you have any safety concerns about returning to football? What has it been like being in the facility?
JM: Right now, it's been normal, and I guess normal in a sense that the numbers are so few that it's not anything that is different than anything that's going on throughout our country right now. You go to the grocery store, everyone has on a mask, has on gloves. You can't go to a gas station without someone doing the same. I think in that regard, it's been normal to the practices that have gone on throughout every community. I think moving forward, I think we all have fears. I think for me, the fear of going back to work is no different than the fear of walking in a restaurant and sitting down to have dinner. So, I think this is something that we're all going to have to deal with. At some point, we're going to start back up, Massachusetts and every other state around the country, and some in the South have already begun to open up. So, I think as players, we're going to go through the same fears that a lot of other people in our country are going to go through. You're going to have to figure it out the best way. When they tell us to come back to work, we have to as individuals make sure, 'Hey, to my standard, I feel that this is safe enough. I'm ready to commit to it. I'm ready to do it.' If not, you've got to go about whatever you feel is best for your family.
Q: What does it mean to you and Devin to be nominated for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award?
JM: Very humbling. I think when you can be mentioned in the same sentence with Muhammad Ali, and obviously his impact on the world with how talented he was in his given sport but what he was able to do off the field and the impact he was able to make is huge. So, just to be mentioned in the same sentence is a very humbling experience for me and Devin. I think the stuff we do off the field, you don't really do it for recognition or anything of that nature. But when you can do those things and be recognized and it can bring more attention and more awareness, possibly more funds, to the causes that you're fighting for, it makes a huge difference.
Q: How are you feeling physically? Do you feel like you'll be at full-go if and when training camp begins?
JM: I'm feeling good. I'm just taking it step by step. Obviously, with everything going on, it's been a process where there's nothing to rush back to because you can't see anything in the very near future. There's no practice to look forward to, there's no minicamp to look forward to, so I'm feeling pretty good and just working every day to get better.
Q: We hear how the defensive backs train at safety and corner and learn multiple positions. What has that experience been like for you in the Patriots defense?
JM: For me, it's been fun. I think the mental aspect of it, that challenge as an older guy has been really fun to put that on myself to see when we're – now, at this point, being in my third season – when we're going over installs and doing things, I try to challenge myself, 'Alright, can I learn the entire defense? Can I understand what the nose technique is or what the defensive tackle is doing in this blitz and why he's doing it and understand the call that [Dont'a] Hightower may make when he sees this or that?' I think when you're able to do that, it makes – whether you're playing corner, safety, nickel, all of those positions – it makes it relatively easy because you understand in what ways the offense is trying to attack you and you understand from a defensive perspective what are you giving up and the things that you have to defend against. For me, it's been a blast getting here, being able to play inside, being able to play outside and challenge myself and also challenge the guys around me. I feel like as an older guy, with Dev, myself, Chung, if all of us are able to learn multiple roles and do things, it kind of sets the standard in the room where we're all trying to be as versatile as possible.
Q: Have you been watching the limited sports that have restarted, such as The Match or Bundesliga?
JM: The most sports I have watched during this thing is I will go on NBA TV, and sometimes they're playing old NBA games. I've watched Allen Iverson in a playoff game way back when versus Toronto, Vince Carter and them, so that was fun. Honestly, I'm not a soccer fan. I'm not a golf fan. The only thing I saw from TB12 and them was he split his pants at one point and he sunk a hole in one. So, I was happy to see he split his pants. The next time I see him, I've got to give him a hard time. But, no, I haven't. I saw the NBA 2K tournament, Madden tournaments and all of that other stuff. But, too many kids to really sit down and watch non-live type of sports that I'm really into.
Q: You came into the league in 2009 and have already had a decade-long career. How much longer do you envision yourself continuing to play?
JM: I don't know. As long as it's fun and physically and mentally I'm willing and able to do it, I think that's the big thing. Obviously now, like you said, this is going into year 12. I'm married, three kids – there's a lot of things that factor in, but I'm just trying to stay in the now and stay in the present. For me right now, I very much want to be a part of the 2020 season and I'm training my butt off to help this team in any way possible in this upcoming season. That's my only focus [inauadible], then you start to [inaudible] what goes on after that. But, it's such a privilege to be able to play in this league that I'm just trying to take advantage of each day I have the opportunity to go out there and compete.
Q: How much are you looking forward to working with some of the new faces on the team or some of the younger guys that have been around in the secondary, like Jonathan Jones or J.C. Jackson?
JM: I love that part of it. I'm always talking to – I call him gerbil – but J.C. I'm always giving him a hard time. I'm always on him. I feel like that's just a part of the game. When I first came into the league, I was in Tennessee and I had guys like Courtland Finnegan, Chris Hope, Michael Griffin – a ton of guys that were willing to pour into me and help me figure out how to be a pro, whether it was the defense, whether it was life off the field. So, for me, getting a chance to be around J.C. – J. Jones is a young vet himself – but Joejuan [Williams], all of those guys, being able to help them, whether it's questions about finance, questions about agents or any of those different things, to be able to be just a sounding board. And then when we're out there competing, there's little things that experience teaches you. For me, being able to play for multiple organizations, coaches, there's tidbits that you can kind of take from everywhere, and those guys know that's one thing with me. Whatever the question or anything that I have to share, I'm going to do so. So, I love that that aspect. And I think that's the part that sucks right now is we don't get a chance to – obviously, we have our virtual meetings – but you don't get a chance to be in the building, really get to know the new guys and catch up on what's gone on in the offseason and really kind of build that chemistry right now.
Q: There is a rule change being voted on for offenses to get a chance with a fourth-and-15 play after scoring instead of an onside kick. It's generally being looked at from the offseason side, but I want to get a defensive player's opinion on that. I'm sure you've spent time on a hands team before, but what do you think of a chance to play your position in a game-changing situation?
JM: I don't know. I mean, I think from the competitive side, especially as a defensive back, you don't mind that pressure, going out there on fourth-and-15 or whatever the down and distance. It's, 'Alright, we've got to show up to win the game.' But it's just like conversely, if I'm a team and I've earned the right to be up, we've made the plays necessary to be winning in the fourth quarter or whatever it might be, I have a chance to go seal the game by just catching an onside kick, versus being out there for a fourth-and-15. From that standpoint, I don't really understand it. We're now basically rewarding you for being behind and that's the only thing that for me is a negative of it. But at the same time, we're in the entertainment business and an onside kick versus a fourth-and-15 is a lot more intriguing. So, we have no control over it. If they vote 'yes,' we'll be out there preparing situationally how to stop fourth-and-15's with the game on the line.
Q: Have other players been in the facility at the same time as you? How is that working?
JM: We're following all the guidelines and we're all figuring it out and making it work.
Q: When you go into the facility, does it help give you a break from quarantine life with the camaraderie with the other guys or staff who are there?
JM: Not really because when we're there, there's nothing to talk about other than quarantine life. So, I don't think it really is a break to take from it. I think obviously the state of Massachusetts for the most part, Phase One is starting back up, but everything is mostly shut down. So, we're all still doing the same thing, and it's kind of throughout the country, like when we get on our virtual meetings, guys are all kind of doing the same thing. You're finding your window or your time where you go work out, whether that's at a field, whether you know someone that owns a gym and it's just maybe you and that person, we're all kind of doing the same thing right now because you can't be out an about. So, you go and you get your workout in, you come home and you're there all day until you go and do the same thing the next day.
Q: You talked about your role as a leader in the secondary with the younger players, one of those being Joejuan Williams. What stood out about Joejuan in his rookie year and how he adjusted to life in the NFL?
JM: He loves to compete. I think that's something that you need. Obviously, at our position, when you're in the back end, any mistake can be a 70 yard touchdown or a game changing play, so I think you've got to have guys that are willing to go out there every single day and compete your butts off and get better. That's what he did last year. As a rookie, he came in, he was willing to learn, he was willing to listen, and I felt like every day when we went out there on the practice field, he got better. I think not only for him being a rookie, but for all of us as a team, that's what the process is about. Whether you're in year one or you're in year 12, every day you've got to show up with a willingness to compete and to prove that you belong there and a willingness to get better and listen to coaching. I think whether it's Joejuan, whether it was D'Angelo [Ross] before he got here, Malik [Gant], all of those young guys came in and they were willing to listen to the older guys, listen to the coaches and really do everything that was asked of them on a daily basis to make sure they were making the necessary movements forward to get better as a football player.
Q: Did Joejuan prove to you that he belongs?
JM: I mean, he went to Vanderbilt, so that's a little bit of a knock on him. In the SEC, they're one of the weaker schools, but other than that, yeah, he definitely did.