Cassel: Pats' behind-the-scenes approach will help Mac Jones thrive


Any time you have a young quarterback like Mac Jones, you have to manage expectations.

But having a consistent approach every week, whether it's good or whether it's bad, is the best approach. The best teams that I've been on have stayed consistent throughout the season. You can't ride that roller coaster of being down when things aren't going great and up when things are going better.

You have to have the same approach week in and week out, and that's one thing I know the New England Patriots pride themselves on.

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When Tom Brady went down in our 2008 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, there were no dramatic speeches. Bill Belichick literally walked up to me on the sideline and said, "All right Cassel, warm up. You're going in." And that was the extent of our conversation.

It wasn't, 'Go get 'em" or "Just calm down." It was just, "Get your helmet, you're going in."

The next week was a media circus. But within that building, it didn't feel any different from a preparation standpoint. That was great for me, because it definitely calmed my emotions a bit.

I knew I was going to have to deal with a lot of outside noise and answer a lot of questions about whether they'd bring in a new QB to replace Tom. But within that building, it was business as usual, which was great. It was just going out and executing at practice and executing the game plan.


It's not like we changed how we approached the game. There weren't any conversations telling me, "Look, I know it's a stressful situation ..." It was just, "We just have to do what we do. We know we have a proven routine for success, and if we do this and stick to the game plan, you'll be prepared come Sunday."

That's the approach I took, and that really calmed me down. I could just dive into the playbook and the game plan for that week, and that was super helpful for me to block out the outside distractions.

The Patriots will do the same with Jones.

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He'll come in on a Monday and they'll grade the film. They'll watch clips as a team, then they'll break up into offense and defense. "What were our goals for that game? Did we hit our five keys to victory? And if we failed, where did we miss?"

Then Jones will go into the quarterback room, which is where he'll get more play-by-play coaching: "We went here with the ball on this play, but next time we need to see the defense differently and make an adjustment."

No matter the circumstance, you're going to come in and make corrections. So, as the season progresses, you know what to expect when you come in that building.

That's good, because as a player, you get into a consistent routine. Your mindset is, "Whether I played really well or whether I played poorly, I know that when I come in on Monday, this is what I have to get done to accomplish success this week."

So, you just have that great understanding for how you need to approach each week. And the coaches really do a good job of not feeding off the highs or lows.

Mac definitely fits the mold of the "Patriot Way." Coming from Nick Saban's program at Alabama, he was probably very well-versed in what the environment would be, what the expectation level is for the quarterback position and how to handle yourself.

And so far, he's handling these situations really well.

Editor's Note: Matt Cassel played 14 years in the NFL as a quarterback, including four with the Patriots from 2005 to 2008. He serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Boston, appearing on Pre/Postgame Live, as a guest on Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast every Thursday, and as a columnist each week during the season.