PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK MAC JONES
August 3, 2023
Q: Your defense is saying a lot of good things about what you guys are doing on a daily basis, how it's variety and you seem to come out and learn and then come out and do better the next day. Do you see that process growing as you go day by day here?
MJ: Yeah, I think the biggest thing, like you said, it's a great defense. They do a lot of stuff, so it allows us to try and do a lot of stuff. So, just trying to figure everything out. Every day, we're going to go back and forth, which is a good thing, right? That makes really great teams. They're a top defense in the NFL, so it's a great way to prepare. They've got great players, great coaches. Coach [Bill] Belichick, obviously, it's his system, but Steve [Belichick] and Coach [Jerod] Mayo do a great job, so it's really hard to go against every day. It's sometimes draining, but at the same time, you've got to go out there and compete and have fun. Whoever you're with out there, our job as an offense is to go out there and have the same mindset. It's to compete and win.
Q: You seem like you're having fun. We see the celebrations, the getting the crowd going, the griddy …
MJ: No griddy.
Q: How much fun are you having out there, the trash talk and everything else?
MJ: I think it's fun. That's one of the things this offseason that I put a lot of thought into, is just enjoying the game and especially practice, right? It's practice. It's good to have fun, but at the end of the day we're out here working. Putting in the work is the most important part, but we've got to have that juice every day. I feel like it comes from the leader and the leaders of the team, so you just have to go out there and have fun.
Q: This storyline of a position battle with Bailey [Zappe], is that at all distracting for you or are you locked in on this season?
MJ: Yeah, I think every year you have to have the mindset that you're competing, not only against yourself, you're competing against the teams you're about to play, which is really important for me. Understanding that it's the NFL, and every week you're going to go against a great quarterback. So, that's my biggest concern and just trying to lead the team every day and bring everybody along. You know, I've been fortunate to be in a lot of quarterback rooms that are really good. So, just trying to learn from everybody, obviously learn from Coach [Bill] O' Brien, and Evan [Rothstein] and Coach Belichick. At the end of the day, it's all about improving each day. When you go out there on Sunday, you want your guys to be confident in you, and that's what I'm trying to instill in them right now.
Q: Yesterday, JuJu [Smith-Schuster] explained some of the progress you've shown this week. It's okay, last week we installed these plays, now we're reviewing and kind of repeating them. Anything else you could attribute that progress to the last few practices?
MJ: Yeah, I think JuJu has done a great job being a great leader, already, on our team. I like to talk about the older guys a lot because they've seen a lot of football, so they know how an installation is supposed to look. You put the play in, you watch it on film – maybe it's another team, or something in the past or something from college – and you've got to go out there and execute it, so I think that's just football 101. It's learning in the classroom and trying to apply it on the field. Every day, the goal is to be a little bit better and not make the same mistake twice.
Q: What have you liked about Demario Douglas so far?
MJ: Yeah, Pop Shotta. That's my guy. I'm going to call him Pop Shotta. Anyways, he's a great kid, works really hard. I think a lot of the young receivers are really learning from the older guys, which is something that I think is really cool. DP [Devante Parker] and JuJu and KB [Kendrick Bourne] and Hunter [Henry] and Mike [Gesicki], and everybody, they're kind of looking up to these guys and learning the right way because those guys are really good, world-class players. So I think that's the biggest thing. Pop just needs to keep working, you know, just keep his head down and work. Don't listen to any of the noise, good or bad, and he'll just keep doing his thing.
Q: His quickness is exceptional, isn't it?
MJ: Yeah, he's pretty fast. I remember, so he's actually from my hometown, so he's kind of a legend down in Jacksonville. He was very good in 7-on-7 because he showed that quickness so often. He's always got the separation, but he just has to realize that it's the NFL and you've got to do it every day. He's going to try his best to do that. I'm proud of him, but he's also – you know it's early, we've got to keep working.
Q: Mike just told me that you were part of the reason why he decided to come here …
MJ: You said Mike?
Q: Gesicki, yeah.
MJ: Yeah, that's my guy.
Q: I saw a photo going around of you meeting with Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott], maybe for dinner or a meal, when he came in to visit. What is it like for you to be a big part of their free agency pitch here?
MJ: Yeah, I think it's really important, as you know, as a leader to just try and go out there and show them that we're all here to be together and to win. They've done that here for forever, and we're trying to get back to that more consistently. I think the guys that we have on our team are doing a really good job. I think whenever I have a chance to kind of explain and try to get them on the team, it's a good thing. It's never a bad thing, right? You want to have as many great players as you can. I've just been really pleased with the guys we have in the room, because it's plenty enough, and we just have got to come together and make it work.
Q: Mac, as we're talking about getting the details down, lining up right, minimizing mental errors, things like that, I'm just curious how you feel about the offense, just from that fundamental standpoint.
MJ: Yeah, you're talking about the operation, right? Just, you know, the basics of football. I think it's important. I think there's still things we need to work on, but I do think that the rules and standards have been set. So, we just have to meet that as players. I think the coaches have done a great job. OB [Bill O'Brien] lays out the operation times, what we're trying to get out of a play, all that stuff, the why behind a play. So, he definitely lays it all out there; we've just got to go out there and try, each day, to clean it up each day and then also get a little bit faster, too, right? You want to play fast; you want to be precise and all that as well.
Q: Do you feel like you're playing faster?
MJ: Yeah, I think it's practice, right? So, it's not really a real game or anything. But, I do think that this system allows a quarterback – puts a lot on their plate – but it also allows us to know what to do to play really fast. So, I think it's a great system.
Q: Just following up on Henry's [McKenna] question about maybe making a pitch to some of these guys that have choices to make in free agency, what would your pitch be to have somebody come join this team?
MJ: I always say we have a great group of guys already, so coming together as an offense is really important for us. Anybody that we can talk to, if they have questions, answer their questions, right? That's all you can do as a player. Just try and explain everything to them and the rest is not up to us, right? But, like I said, I'm happy with the guys we have in the room, so it is hard to answer these questions, you know? Because I really do think we have enough and I think we have plenty enough. The offensive line looks really good right now, the skill players are doing great and like I said, the older guys are really setting the standard. It's still early, but they just need to continue to do that because I have a lot of trust in those guys and then it goes down to the younger guys as well.
Q: Mac, there were three periods today where you were out there with, I guess, the starting defense with, I want to say, probably some of the backup receivers. It seemed like they were trying to make it more difficult on you. I'm just wondering, what's the coaching point at a point like that?
MJ: I think it's great. I think I actually had to do that a lot at Alabama. I was on the scout team and we would go against 11 NFL starters, so nothing new there. I think the important thing is to accept the challenge. He's trying to make it hard on us and that's a good thing, right? So, when you get to the game, it's always harder, whether it's a wet ball or the clock is running down fast. Regardless of who's in there, I think those guys did a great job today. I try to tell them to go out there, play and have fun because it doesn't really matter where you are on the depth chart, right? It really doesn't. I think everything is important to go out there, play, line up, execute your assignment and then from there, just be free and go play.
Q: Mac, if I heard you right, there was a moment this offseason where it hit you, and you're like, "I've got to get back to having fun." When did that happen? How did that manifest itself for you, that that became a thought in your mind this offseason?
MJ: Yeah, I think it always stems from winning, right? To win, you have to do a lot of really good things consistently, all the time. I feel like I need to do that better, just try to lead the team more so from the mental side and all that stuff. Obviously, the plays and the physical stuff is there; I just have to go out there and try and lead. Really, for me, I've always kind of been a fun person, in my opinion. Hopefully people agree. But, that's why people like to play with me, you know? Because we like to go out there, and have fun and compete. So, I just have to be consistent there. I feel like sometimes if I'm not consistent, you can tell, and that's something that I'm trying to work on. So, I'm just trying to stay the course, but at the same time, have fun and then when bad things happen, just accept it and kind of move on.
Q: Julian Edelman was out there. What do you say to him, though? What's it like to have a Patriot, an ex-Patriot, back here, to have a voice to hear?
MJ: Jules has been awesome. I always text him. He sends voice memos; it's kind of interesting. But, he does a great job communicating with me. He loves the Patriots and he's just an all-time Patriot. We see him on the film all the time and any questions I have for him he always answers. So, I don't know him that well, but every time I've talked to him, he's just been awesome. So, it's been a good resource for us.