Mac Jones' public image has taken a hit over the past six months, to the point where some are questioning whether he'll still be the New England Patriots quarterback after his rookie contract expires in 2024.
But Devin McCourty was happy to do some image rehabilitation on Jones' behalf Monday morning.
Curran: Setting the stakes for Mac Jones in Year 3 with Patriots
The Patriots safety, who has yet to decide whether he'll retire, re-sign with New England or enter unrestricted free agency on March 17, launched a passionate defense of Jones during an appearance on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
"I think he's the future of New England," McCourty said of Jones. "Any doubts, I think you’re wrong if you don’t think that. I think he's the future. He’s in that building right now doing different things, working with guys, talking to guys; that’s what he wants. He wants to be that quarterback."
Jones and the Patriots sputtered to an 8-9 record last season thanks in large part to a dysfunctional offense led by first-time offensive play-caller Matt Patricia. Amid that dysfunction, there were reports that Jones grew frustrated with the operation and even sought help outside the organization, which head coach Bill Belichick apparently didn't appreciate.
But McCourty suggested any frustration Jones had was borne out of competitiveness, and that Jones giving his feedback about plays he didn't like is something that Belichick actually encourages.
"Mac came into a leadership role as a quarterback and he speaks to what he thinks," McCourty said. "He speaks about, 'Hey man, I don't like this play. I want to do this play.' Same thing when I was in there (on defense) and I was like, 'I don't like this play.' Because we're the guys out there.
"And I think what people don't always understand in our locker room: Bill pushes that. We're in a captains' meeting every week. (He'll say), 'If you don't like something, tell us, we'll throw it out.'"
Jones took a significant step back in Year 2 after a promising rookie campaign, but McCourty is confident the 24-year-old will get back on track under new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and stake his claim as New England's clear QB1.
"They know the future is Mac Jones," McCourty added. "And I'm excited for this guy this year, because now you get Billy O'Brien coming in as an offensive coordinator. (He's had) great success, has done well everywhere he's been offensively. ... (Jones is) going to have stability around him."
Jones has plenty to prove in Year 3, but at the very least, it seems like he still has the support of players in the locker room as he aims to get his young NFL career back on track.