New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones made some interesting comments after a 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins last week that dropped the team's record to 0-2.
"Definitely got to play better and learn from it and be here early and leave late and do it together," Jones said in his postgame press conference. "I think that’s the biggest thing. If a couple guys are doing it, it’s not good enough, clearly."
Whether he was trying to instill more urgency in his team, call out a few guys, or something else, these remarks from Jones were notable.
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Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer appeared on NBC Sports Boston's "Patriots Pregame Live" before Sunday's Week 3 game between the Patriots and Jets, and he provided some good insight on Jones' comments and his evolving role as a leader.
"I think this is a role Mac Jones has become accustomed to playing, whether it was in high school or college, where he wants to be the tone-setter," Breer explained. "The reason why I correlated his comments after the game last week to what you heard coming out of his camp when he was a rookie is that there is a standard he was use to having in the program at Alabama, and he didn't feel like it was there when he was a rookie. Clearly it wasn't there last year, which I think led to a lot of the frustration personally.
"So it should get people's attention when he says something like this. I don't think Mac is saying things by mistake. Even if he tries to reel it back in, he knows it's out there for his teammates now. He said very clearly, it can't just be a couple of guys coming in early and staying late and doing all the work that we need to do. It has to be everybody.
"Again, this is something I can tie back to his past whether it was him as a rookie and how he was helpless to do that because he hadn't won the job until Week 1, to last year when there was all the frustration on offense. I think now he finally feels he's in the position that he can say something and maybe affect some change.
"If you want to go further back in his past, it was something he did in the summer his final year at Alabama, that was the Covid season, where he had workouts with his guys that set them up for a championship run. And that was run by the players, not by the coaches."
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Being a leader isn't easy, though, especially for a young quarterback.
"I think Mac is slowly trying to move into that role," Breer said. "And it's a fine line quarterbacks have to walk where they're expected to be leaders but they do have to have some skin on the wall, and he might not be quite there yet in that department where he can actually get after guys, but he can make comments like this that can kinda push guys along."
The Patriots have lost a lot of leadership in recent years, most notably from the departures of longtime veterans Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty and others.
They need someone to step up and help fill that void. Jones, as the starting quarterback and someone who has plenty of leadership experience throughout his football career, is the ideal candidate for that role. But it's not something that happens overnight.