QUARTERBACK MAC JONES
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Q: Looking at this Bengals defense, what challenges do they present?
MJ: I think obviously they've played really well the past couple of games. Talented group, really good scheme and it's going to be a big challenge. They do some similar things to our defense. But they have their own flavor to everything. Just really great hustle on every play by every defender they have. You can tell that's their M.O. They're just a really good defense.
Q: How would you describe the energy of the team here coming back to work with the first practice of the week since you guys got back from the trip?
MJ: I think it's been good. I think you just have to, like we always do every week, just evaluate what you can do better whether that's individual, as a team or as an offense. We've done that and obviously now we're just preparing for Cincinnati. So it's just a normal week. Obviously the energy's been good. So that's the good thing.
Q: How do you feel health wise at a time like this coming off an injury earlier in the year and then going into another 17-game schedule like last year?
MJ: Yeah, I feel good. A lot of that's preparation. You're going to get football bumps and bruises along the way. But that's part of the game. Every year is a long year. But that's why we play. We want to play as many games as we can. The goal is to prepare yourself to endure the whole season. I feel like I've done that and just have to continue to stick to my routine and my schedule.
Q: Third downs are obviously very important. The numbers for you guys recently have not been very good on third down. But let me ask you this, how much of a correlation is there for first and second down to what makes third down so difficult for you guys the way things have gone over the last five games?
MJ: I think third down is definitely a big down, especially in the National Football League. Then as you get further away from the sticks, your percentages go down. So that's just a fact. So you want to try and keep it as close as you can to the third-and-shorts, third-and-mediums. But going backwards on first and second down doesn't help. Definitely want to improve. But the other part of it is you can't over emphasize a certain down and put too much pressure on that situation. It's another play. Yes, you're trying to get past the sticks, but you have to play the play for what it is. Sometimes that might be taking the check down or whatever it may be. We're just trying to end every drive in a kick. So that's the important part. Whether that be an extra point, or a PAT that's great. Or if it's a punt, obviously we don't want those. But that's also better than interceptions, turnovers and stuff. So that's a big part of it, too. We definitely need to be better on third downs. So we have to improve that area.
Q: How hard is it to not get frustrated on a weekly basis when you're not seeing results and remain positive?
MJ: I think it goes back to just trusting the process of everything and doing whatever you can do to become a great football player. Eventually that will show up on film. So a lot of things as an offense, it's 11 guys and you have to try to push everybody as a quarterback to do the right thing and make sure we're all on the same page. We've done that at times. But just getting that consistency. Obviously with myself, too. Just making sure all of my P's and Q's. Then it takes everybody else as well to hop on the train. It takes everybody. We're working together, communicating really well, which is important between the players. At the end of the day, we have to go out there and compete for each other and play because we love this game. So we have a respect for each other in our room as an offense. That's the most important part.
Q: Obviously football is a pretty emotional game. We've heard even Bill Belichick say that playing with emotion is good. But on the broadcast again the other day during the goal line situation they talked again about how you're emoting a lot. Do you have to be careful that when you do get a little emotional that you're not like showing up your teammates and coaches and stuff?
MJ: I think it's a big part of the game, playing with passion and emotion. I think the best players on every team do that. You can't let it affect your next play, that's the biggest thing. Which it hasn't. It's all about fixing the things that pop up in a game, right? So sometimes when they're reoccurring, we just want to fix them and move on to the next play. That's something that definitely – that's who I am and that's how I've always been. I want to just be a great teammate however I can be and be a leader too. You want to show positivity as well. When we do things well, I try to do that. We want to do more things well and try to fix the things that we're working through. That's all you can do. It's a game. It shows that you care. I think we have guys that care on our team. I definitely care. So that's important to me.
Q: Have you talked to Jakobi Meyers at all this week? Did you offer him any advice or try to pump him up?
MJ: Yeah, I think Kob is just a very routine person, kind of like myself. We just, no matter what happens the week before, we're running the same schedule. I see him at the same times every day, and on the off day, everything. So, he's a very routine person. He's not going to let results effect his performance. He's going to grind and do whatever he can to help the team like he's done since he's been here. Definitely had a great practice today. Just proud of the way he's responding. That's what football is all about. Sometimes when things don't go your way, you just have to bounce back. I definitely look at him as a great leader on our team. So he's setting a great example. Now we're just getting ready for this big week. He's done a good job.
Q: On a short week Sunday to Saturday, there's a higher volume of things to prepare for in Cincinnati's defense. How are you shaking that balance of doing that, getting a base of knowledge of Cincinnati of what they do but also tending to those corrections and the things that need to be addressed with the offense?
MJ: I think, like I said, it's just the process of 'Alright, here's what we need to fix,' and we've done that obviously from the last game. Then how do we attack the next defense. That's how it has to be every week. Sometimes it's a quick turnaround, sometimes we get to Sunday to Sunday or even more with bye week for example. But every week is the same in its own regard. Just come in, work hard, become better as an individual, become better as a team, become better as an offense. That's all you can do. That's all you can ask. Just compete every day with yourself, against your teammates, against our defense who's a great defense. So we have a great opportunity to go against them. We have plenty of banked reps against our defense who is probably one of the most multiple defenses in the league, too. So kind of similar to Cincinnati there. But yeah, I think it's a great defense in Cincinnati. Just have to be ready to go from a mentality standpoint.
Q: How are you with it being, you got to win out to get to playoffs? Is that a challenge that as a team you embrace, or you don't let the moment get that big?
MJ: Yeah, you want to embrace every challenge, right? We're all competitors here. The biggest thing is just be where your feet are and focus on the present. That's today and then tomorrow is tomorrow, right? Then obviously, when we get to the game, you want to feel prepared as a football player. You want to feel like you have the confidence to go out there and compete together and that takes just effort and toughness. When you have those two things and then the fundamentals and everything is going to come together. By the time you get to the game, you want to focus on the game and try and win, but you also don't want to think about the results as much as just, 'Alright, here's what I need to do, line up here, run the plays as best I can and compete and just show effort.' That's all you can ask for.
Q: We heard from Matthew Slater in Arizona about him and Devin [McCourty] encouraging you to be more vocal with your leadership and he felt you had done that. Any more or less vocal this week considering the circumstances and after a loss?
MJ: No. I think every week's the same and just try and, like I said, become a better football player. There's a lot of things that I can do better, and I know there's a lot of guys on our team that are trying to do the same thing. We're all in the same boat here and just trying to compete, trying to keep our heads up and that's what we're doing. It's all about positivity and just dominating each day. That's what it comes down to. We're definitely doing that, just trying to come in early and stay late and do what we always do every week. The vocal part is, that's how I am. I like to speak and also lead by example, so that's something that I'm still working through and just being a great leader. I've learned from, like you said, Devin, Slater and David [Andrews] and everybody. It's been a great group to learn from and obviously, trying to apply it and do it and do the right things.
Q: How would you frame the significance of this game for the team, obviously, is it basically a playoff game and also for you, how significant is this Bengals game?
MJ: Yeah, I think every game is a big game, right? I know everybody says that every week, right? But, this one especially just to show our resiliency and just to bounce back and stay positive with one another and go out there and compete. We know that they're a great football team on the other side and definitely starts with us, like it does every week. I feel like we want to put our best 60 out on the field, so special teams, offense and defense. Put our best 60 out there and see where we're at. At the end of the day, that's all you can ask for and everything else is kind of out of your control.
Q: Every expression of frustration can be, one guys passion can look like another guys, 'Hey, he's blaming me for something.' Is it important for you to be mindful of all of that so that it doesn't look like, 'Hey, you're screwing up,' or is the urgency the most vital thing? 'I don't care if it looks like that way, let's go forward and get it right?'
MJ: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is just cleaning up the details and the nitty-gritty, right? That's what I always call them, the nitty-gritty goals of just trying to get everything to where we're all operating on the same page. That can apply in football, that can apply in life, just cleaning up every little detail, so that when you get to game day, we have that stuff figured out. We have all that stuff planned out. We've done that at times, and we just want to improve that as an offense. For me as a quarterback, how can I be ready for any situation that pops up? I'm going to show emotion and be passionate about this game because I love this game, and I know my teammates respect that about me. The biggest thing is playing the next play and playing for each other.
Q: Do you have to be cautious about diminishing returns on someone feeling as if they're being singled out or blamed? I guess I'm talking about the sideline to be blunt about it.
MJ: Yeah, I'm not really sure what you're talking about. I'm just confused.
Q: When you gesture at the coaches, 'Hurry up,' it immediately makes us say, 'Obviously, the coaches are letting them down.'
MJ: Yeah, it's not really about that. I think it's more, like I said, the sense of urgency for just doing everything on time and in control and that's something we preach here, from the coaches, from the players, from the whole staff is just trying to do everything right. At the end of the day, that's what's important is doing the right thing and getting to that point and holding everybody to that standard. As a quarterback, I can do a lot of things better, too. It always comes back to the quarterback, right? At the end of the day. I understand what position I'm in, and I want to just help the team win and that's what I'll do, and I'll always do that and just try and compete everyday and just try and win.