Patriots

AFC coach details the most underrated aspect of Mac Jones' game

Patriots
Mac Jones

Mac Jones is pretty polarizing player.

Some view the young Patriots quarterback as New England's signal-caller of the future with perennial Pro Bowl potential. Others believe Jones is one of the worst QBs in the AFC right now with less upside than his peers in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

What matters most is how Jones' opponents view him, however, and at least one coach had some positive things to say about the 23-year-old QB.

"He is more athletic than you all give him credit for," an AFC defensive coach told NFL Network's Mike Giardi. "He can make some plays with his legs. He's not this statue."

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The coach added that he "loves" Jones' pocket presence, and that the second-year quarterback "feels the game and sees the game as well as any young QB."

While Jones isn't very athletic compared to Justin Fields, Trey Lance and other QBs in the 2021 class, he did rush for 129 yards in 2021, which is more than Tom Brady has ever rushed for in his 22-year career.

Jones faced plenty of pressure as a rookie but was only sacked 28 times (tied for 24th in the NFL), a testament to his ability to avoid pressure in the pocket.

 

Concerns remain for Jones entering Year 2, however -- namely about his arm strength and how he'll handle the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

The AFC coach told Giardi that Jones does "lollipop a few too many of his throws," and that if Jones can "add a little more zip," that could "open up a few more things in whatever playbook they're using."

That playbook question remains a mystery, as the Patriots haven't named a playcaller since McDaniels' exit in January. Is that setup a cause for concern for Jones in 2022?

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"Yes," the AFC coach told Giardi. "Not so much as a play caller. More about who helps him solve problems in-game. Of the many things Josh brought to the table, that was huge."

That responsibility could fall on quarterbacks coach Joe Judge or head coach Bill Belichick, both of whom were spotted working with Jones during Patriots OTAs on Monday. It's not an ideal situation on paper, and the Patriots run the risk of stunting their franchise quarterback's growth if he doesn't get adequate coaching during a critical year of his development.

But Jones appears to have the tools to prove his doubters wrong in 2022.