QUARTERBACK MAC JONES
August 22, 2023
Q: The play when Rhamondre [Stevenson] had the run in the game, it seemed like there was some good work before the snap, actually. How much do you embrace sort of that part of the game and setting up a play like that, if I read that right with what was going on before that?
MJ: Yeah, I think the big thing is just using your tools, right? The defense can do whatever they want, so just trying to use your toolbox to make sure we get in the right play and all of that stuff. But, that'll get easier as the season goes on because you see more looks, you kind of remember the looks and things like that. So, all stuff that we're still working through in the preseason, but it's critical for this system, for the quarterback – whether you're right or wrong – to be on the same page as the offensive line because you kind of set up the blocks and stuff.
Q: Adrian [Phillips] was just saying how much you've grown from the sense that you're coming after them every single day in practice. He's loving it. What has that been like for you to progress here now through camp and getting ready for your last preseason game?
MJ: I appreciate that. I think just keep growing, keep competing, keep it fun, go back-and-forth with the defense. I think we've done that more this year, and really just try to carry it over to the game and keep that intensity up. One thing in practice, you can get into a rhythm. I think sometimes in preseason it's hard to get into a rhythm, but you have to work through that and try and find out in what ways you can start fast and really just carry that momentum into the season. But, I think the defense has given us great looks, both the scout defense and the starting defense. So, we definitely really enjoy competing against them.
Q: The words Adrian that used were that you are, quote 'a way better quarterback', but he didn't want to give any tips or tools away. Do you feel the same way, and if so, where do you feel that and how do you feel that?
MJ: Yeah, I think just with AP [Adrian Phillips], one of the things that he has actually been helping me with is just asking questions. Obviously, we haven't even played a game yet, so I don't know if that's true or not. But, I mean, I think just talking with him, asking him questions when we're going against them, like 'hey, what did I do there'? He's like, 'hey, good job looking me off on that man-to-man coverage', or whatever, and just trying to take it from the practice field to the game field and use those tools that I have. But yeah, it's just continuing to grow and staying to the process, I guess. Don't veer off the process.
Q: Is that something that you did in the past with other defenders, kind of ask them for tips on what you're doing out there?
MJ: Yeah, I feel like I did it a lot my rookie year, and last year too, but really just more this year. Just asking more, not like annoying questions, but just little things. I'm not trying to figure out their plays and everything, but just trying to figure out, like I said, 'hey, did that work that time'? Sometimes, they're like 'no, that really didn't work', whether it was the play, the head fake, or whatever, so it's all things that you have to add to your toolbox. That's what practice is about. It's about trying new things, trying throws that you wouldn't maybe throw in the game, things like that, which I've tried to do during fall camp.
Q: We see you've been practicing with the red jersey. When you go out there in the preseason game, how helpful was it to take some actual hits and stand in a live pocket?
MJ: Yeah, it's great. I think the game film that you can watch from that is awesome. You can apply drills to what you need to get better at, like stepping up in the pocket or avoiding certain defenders and things like that. So really, it's just fundamental football stuff, and you do it every day in practice. The game isn't much different, really, if you don't have the red jersey, but that's football and that's the best part of football.
Q: You talked about getting better, obviously, as a quarterback. How much has your confidence grown over the course of this camp?
MJ: I think confidence is key, really just with teammates, knowing that you can trust them and they can trust you is a big thing for me. Whether that's the plays, your leadership style or just having a conversation, I feel like just the learning experiences that you have, 'hey I saw this, let's try this, or hey Mac, throw it like this because I'm open on this route.' So, I'm always open to hear what they have to say, and that's what's important to me. That's where my confidence comes from: all the other guys in the room, the offensive line and those guys gelling together. There are a lot of young guys playing because of injury right now, which is great. They're getting good experience. They're doing a great job and they're just going to continue to grow. Like I said, we haven't really played a real game yet, so we've got a lot of work to do.
Q: Obviously, you have one more preseason game this week, but what are the conversations like, if at all, about the first couple games of the regular season at this point in the summer?
MJ: Honestly, not much. I think around here, you kind of just have to live day by day and just focus on the now. Obviously, you have that in mind, right? A good team has the end goal in mind, but you can't focus on the end goal without going through the rough stuff. So, you've got to continue to plug along, have a good practice here tomorrow in full pads and see where it takes us. Then, like I said, every day has a life of its own, and you kind of just have to go out there and attack each day.
Q: Mac, it seems like the receivers are having a pretty good camp. You see DeVante [Parker] and JuJu [Smith-Schuster] making plays out here. Bill [Belichick] said [Kendrick] Bourne is having one of his best camps. The two rookies are showing out. What is it like for you to see that room just having a good camp and notice the chip on their shoulder maybe a little bit?
MJ: Yeah, they look good out there. I think in practice, just like I talked about earlier, gaining the trust in everybody, when to throw what type of pass to certain guys and things like that. But, I trust all those guys. I feel like the older guys: DP [DeVante Parker], JuJu, KB [Kendrick Bourne], everybody has done a great job of setting the standard in there. They know that they have work to do just like we do in the quarterback room and everything. So, we're all going to continue to work, and that's what it's all about. But, I think the progress has been there, and the older guys are really helping the younger guys.
Q: You've really taken on this leadership role here. What do you have to say to some of the rookies and young guys who are trying to earn that roster spot?
MJ: I think, honestly, you can't really focus on that. It's hard to say, right? But, just focus on doing your part, whatever that may be. If it's to be on kickoff for a play, then be on kickoff and do your best. If it's to play 60 snaps in a game, play 60 snaps. So, you never know with injuries and stuff like that. The biggest thing is just believe in yourself and everything else is out of your control, right? You can only have so many guys on the team, and that's above my pay grade. But, I do think we have some really good young guys who will play a long time in the league.
Q: Mac, with the young guys you mentioned playing in front of you on the offensive line, how many of the tools that you talked about are at your disposal right now? Or, do you have to maybe sort of pace that off to help them along?
MJ: In the preseason, in the games and stuff, we're not really showing much. So, we're just trying to do the basic things right. But, for the guys that come into the huddle when I'm in there, I'm doing whatever as if it was Trent [Brown], David [Andrews], Riley [Reiff] and all those guys, you know? So, I try not to tailor to anybody because I wasn't tailored to when I was a rookie. So, I think that's important, right? You just go in there, call the play, 'hey, I'm going to check to this or alert to this,' and they've got to know what to do. They've done a great job with that. There's going to be growing pains just like I had gone through with calling multiple plays and things like that; it's the NFL. But, really just for me and the young guys, it's just telling them they can do it. If they mess up once or twice, it's not a big deal in my opinion. Just keep fighting, keep trying to make plays and do your thing.