QUARTERBACK MAC JONES
Wednesday May 31, 2023
Q: How much more confidence do you have entering year three?
MJ: I think every year is a great year to just stay positive and try and gain confidence. Everyone that I've talked to that's either been in year three or older, they say 'Just keep working and build the confidence through your reps.' It's not just confidence from last year, the year before, college, it's my whole life. So, just continue to do that and working, and doing all the right things.
Q: What's the process been like so far with Bill O'Brien coming in and getting to know each other?
MJ: It's been really good. It's been normal. I think everything he's done so far has been really good. I think the communication is the most important part, and trust. I think it all starts with that when you're with a new coach. He's done a great job in controlling the room. I feel like everyone's on the same page. We've just got to continue to do it; it's a marathon, not a sprint. So, we know that, and he's obviously had great experience in the NFL and at Alabama where I was at, so there's a lot of good stuff that we've talked about, and just looking forward to working with him.
Q: Mac, has he brought anything from Alabama, in terms of the offense? Anything that you're familiar with?
MJ: I'm not going to get into the specifics and give it away, but I think there's definitely things we talk about, like lingo. There's things we both say and it makes sense, so that's important, but at the end of the day, football is football, and we're kind of building our own thing here and utilizing the guys that we have. We have a good group of guys, a veteran group, and really it's about molding together as a team. That's the most important part, is how do you come together and trust each other regardless of what the plays are.
Q: Mac, do you feel like you had to rebuild your confidence just coming off of last year, and how did you approach this offseason when it came to improving offensively with the struggles?
MJ: I tried to follow a college-like offseason program. Stay on it really early, a lot less vacations and just work really hard like all the other guys are doing. That's really going to help in the future, and try to do that every year. But, it's really just identifying where you can get better at. Like I said, confidence comes from years of practice and doing well, and also not doing well. Sometimes the most confident people come from a year where they might not have been their best, and I feel like that's where I'm at. We all feel like that, so we're all hungry. Confidence comes with time, but it's also something that you can look back on too, not just worrying about things that happened in the past, but also focusing on the future.
Q: Mac, why is that? Having the confidence after a year where you might not have been your best?
MJ: I think that really great people are formed through ups and downs. Sometimes, speaking for myself, my sports career, I've always been on really good, winning teams, and that's what this place has been. I'm just learning from all the things. That's all I took from last year; it's a learning experience and I think I learned a lot, which is really important. I was a second year player at the time, and all that can do is help me in the future. I think it can help our team, my teammates, my coaches and the experiences that we're going to go through. It's the NFL; it's the hardest league there is and everyone's really good. So, you've got to bring your best not only every year, but really most importantly, every day. We're just focusing on that.
Q: How do you make the most of having your third offensive coordinator in three years?
MJ: I think in college-- I always reference college, right? Didn't really play early on, just got a chance to learn. But, I learned through some really good coaches: Sark [Steve Sarkisian], [Brian] Daboll, [Mike] Locksley, [Lane] Kiffin, everybody. I actually had a different coordinator pretty much every year there. What I took from that is you learn from each one of them. You take the really good things and you add that to your repertoire. I think with OB [Bill O'Brien], obviously that needs to happen and we're going to work toward that. There's a lot of familiarity, but it's a new relationship still. We're just working on that trust. That's what I care about; I'm very much a trustworthy person, and that's what we're trying to build.
Q: Mac, this being year three for you, coming off a year that wasn't the best, do you personally put pressure on yourself for year three to have people forget what year two was?
MJ: I think every year is a new year, right? It's a lot easier to say that after you have a really good year. Obviously, our goal is to win every game that we play in, and learn how to do that. I think some of the learning experiences I had last year will really help. There's a lot of things I could do better. I know that as a person, as a player, there's things I could grow upon. But, really it's about this year. We've got new faces in the room; it's all about earning the respect of everybody, every day. So, I'm starting fresh just like everybody else is. I'm going to run my own race, and look up at the end and see where I'm at. I think everyone else should do that, too.
Q: Mac, what have you observed from Tyquan [Thornton]? It seemed like you had something going a little bit.
MJ: I think Tyquan, he's done a really good job just trying to be consistent. I got a chance to work with him in the offseason like a lot of the guys. For me and him, it's all about communication. He has to grow and learn with me, and all the other guys, too. We're all in the same boat together, but what you see is exactly what you're going to get. He's fast, he's a smart football player, he's got strong hands. I really think it's just him continuing to grow that confidence just like we're all working for, and he's going to be a great player for a long time.
Q: Mac, have you thrown much to JuJu [Smith-Schuster] yet?
MJ: Yeah, I think JuJu's done a great job, also from a leadership standpoint. Coming in, that's someone who adds veteran leadership from different places. He just came off of a Super Bowl team, so what a great value to our offense. Obviously, when he gets on the field, that's going to be great because he has the experience and he loves talking about football. He's just a football nerd, I guess, kind of like me. We kind of hit it off in that regard. He's an awesome guy, and I'm looking forward to working with all those guys in that room. I think there's a lot of potential there.
Q: What are your impressions of Mike Gesicki?
MJ: Throughout the years in the league so far, this is my third year, but watching him go against some guys as an opponentis really cool to see. He would make some plays one-on-one, and down the field, and all that stuff. You can definitely see that translate to here. I think Hunter [Henry] and him, and everybody else in the tight end room, Scotty [Washington], Matt Sokol, everybody, they're doing a good job. I think the biggest thing is, like you said, molding together. Those two are going to work as a pair. It might be different guys at times, but Mike definitely has playmaking ability. He's a smart football player, and I'm just excited to work with him.
Q: Hey Mac, when the regular season ended in January, did you feel as if you wanted to get 'hey, a little separation from the year, cleanse my palette, and then I'll get back at it.' A conversation that swirled was why the season wasn't a particular way, is Mac the guy, all that stuff. How anxious were you to get back to start the process after you had the palette cleanse?
MJ: First of all, nice golf hat. I like that. I can't pull off the bucket hat, but that's cool. First of all, I think coming off a season, you have to recover, right? Your body's a little bit beat up, and obviously that's everybody. I think there's a mental component to it. For me, it's just staying hungry and trying to fine the little details, just fine the edge. You have to fill up that 99 percent, but you're also looking for that one percent. The first part of the offseason is a lot of, 'What can I do better? What are the really good guys doing?' Pick some people's brains, don't be afraid to ask questions. I'm always trying to learn from our coaches, our strength staff. They've done a great job this offseason, Moses [Cabrera] and everybody, trying to get us stronger and faster. So, I've been really pleased with those guys; it's like the different buckets, I always talk about the different buckets. There's mental, physical, emotional, and I've addressed all that. Everything from last year is a learning experience, the year before, same thing. So, just trying to fill up each bucket the right way, and just be consistent. Take out some off days, just stay consistent and grind out.
Q: Is there something in the bucket that could say, 'Everybody, shut the F up?'
MJ: Yeah, we'll see [Laughs], I mean, that's a lot of emotion, right? I think everyone's entitled to an opinion. All I can do, like I said earlier, I'm going to run my race, and hopefully everybody will run right behind me. We'll be able to push this thing along and learn from everything. I'm going to do everything I can to earn the respect of everybody in this building again, and from there, go out there and win some games.
Q: You answered a question earlier about three coordinators in three years. How much similarity is there now though, for you, compared to your first year as a rookie?
MJ: I can't get into specifics, but I think for me, it's terminology and things like that, that are definitely things I've seen before in the past. OB's been around and he's taken a lot of good things from each stop. I feel like, for me, it's just being a sponge. Whatever quarterback he's coached, I can learn from, whether that's Bryce [Young] or Deshaun [Watson], or at Penn State. He has such great experience in this league, and in football and in the football world. It's like a walking dictionary; just pick his brain and see the game how he sees it, how I see it, and then come together and mesh to create a really good offense.