The New England Patriots mostly have kept their evaluations of Mac Jones to themselves, but head coach Bill Belichick offered a candid (by his standards) observation of his rookie quarterback Monday morning.
Following the Patriots' final preseason game against the New York Giants, Belichick admitted he's been pleased with Jones' approach to practice and games since the team selected him 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
"Mac has come in here and worked hard," Belichick told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "He’s put in a ton of work every day. I think that has paid off and it’s showed up in the things he’s been able to improve on.
"If he makes a mistake he learns from it and works hard at it. He works hard in the first place so he doesn’t make mistakes. Maybe he gets it right the first time, which is sometimes hard at that position. His work ethic is very good."
That's high praise from Belichick, who mostly has spoken about Jones in general terms this summer by noting that all rookies are working hard to get caught up to speed.
Jones shouldered an increased workload during the final week of training camp, taking Cam Newton's first-team reps while the veteran QB missed five days due to COVID protocols. Jones also played well in Sunday night's finale, taking four sacks but completing 10 of 14 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.
So, do Belichick's comments signal he's ready to name Jones the starter over Newton? Not quite. The Patriots coach declined to name a Week 1 starting QB Sunday night, saying the team still has "a lot of decisions to make."
When our Tom E. Curran asked Belichick during a Monday morning press conference if there's a competitive advantage to not naming a starter ahead of the Sept. 12 season opener against the Miami Dolphins, Belichick pleaded the fifth.
"I would just say that what we're going to do is what we feel is best for the football team," Belichick responded, as seen in the video above.
The current signs point to Newton getting the nod in Week 1, but we do know that Belichick and his staff think highly of their rookie QB.