Mac Jones

Patriots fans will love Adrian Phillips' assessment of Mac Jones in camp

"I just think his confidence is through the roof right now."

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The New England Patriots are determined to put last year's struggles behind them and return to the NFL playoffs this coming season. For the Patriots to reach their goals, starting quarterback Mac Jones needs to play a lot better than he did in 2022.

His teammates are confident that he will, and perhaps no one is more optimistic than Patriots safety Adrian Phillips.

"I just think overall he's a way better quarterback," Phillips told reporters after practice Tuesday. "He took last year on the chin. He'll be the first one to tell you that that's not how he wanted to play, and for all of us that's not how any of us wanted to play. He'll be the first to tell you that.

"He's coming out here every single day and he's trying to light our defense up. Literally light us up. Anything he can do. You love to see that. He's always checking the play. He's always ready to give you something you have to think about. I just think his confidence is through the roof right now."

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Jones appreciated Phillips' comments. The third-year quarterback also values the opportunity to ask Phillips questions and pick his brain on certain situations that come up in practice.

"With AP, I think one of the things he's been helping me with is just asking questions," Jones said in response to Phillips' praise. "... I think just talking with him and asking him questions. When we're going against (the defense), 'Hey what did I do there?' He's like, 'Hey, good job looking me off on that man-to-man coverage.' Just try to take it from the practice field to the game field and use those tools that I have."

There are a couple factors working in Jones' favor entering the 2023 campaign.

For starters, the offensive coaching staff has been significantly improved. Matt Patricia was the play-caller and de facto offensive coordinator last season, while Joe Judge served as the quarterbacks coach. This setup was a disaster, and the offense suffered as a result. Patricia is now in Philly and Judge is in a different role on the Patriots staff. Bill O'Brien, who has been a successful coach at the college and NFL levels, is the new offensive coordinator. The feedback on O'Brien's offense has been very positive.

"We speak the same language," Jones recently told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. "(Coach O'Brien) used to coach for (Bill) Belichick and (Nick) Saban, and I played for Belichick and Saban. … We speak the same terminology. Sometimes I’ll bring up an old play, and everyone’s like, What’s that? And O’B’s like, It’s this. We’re talking the same language. It’s fun."

The Patriots also have given Jones a better supporting cast compared to last season. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott are a very good running back tandem. The group of wide receivers lacks a true No. 1, but it has plenty of No. 2s and good depth. Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki should be a solid tight end tandem. The offensive line has some weaknesses, but if healthy, that unit should be OK.

The pieces are in place for Jones to enjoy a bounce-back season and establish himself as a legit franchise quarterback. Now it's up to him to take that next step.

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