Bill Belichick beaming over ‘dramatic improvement’ and ‘tremendous strides’ from Mac Jones

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At this point last year, Bill Belichick had very little to say about quarterback Mac Jones — except perhaps that he had a long way to go. This year, Belichick is singing his young quarterback’s praises as Jones heads into his second year with the New England Patriots.

What a difference a year makes, right?

“He’s made tremendous strides,” Belichick said of Jones on Tuesday during a press conference. “He did a great job last year, but he’s starting from a much, much higher point this year than where he started last year. His offseason work has been significant and I think everyone recognizes how well he prepares and how much further along he (is) than he was a year ago.”

Belichick detailed some of the finer points of Jones’ offseason work.

“I think Mac’s done a great job. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s got a tremendous work ethic. In all areas, I think there’s a dramatic improvement,” Belichick said on a Tuesday morning Zoom call. “His physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses.

Jones nearly won the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021 while he led the Patriots to a 10-7 record and playoff berth. He posted 3,801 passing yards,  22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 17 games. Though the season ended with an ugly postseason loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots are growing bullish about what Jones can do for the team in 2022.

Receiver Jakobi Meyers, for example, detailed the immense command Jones has displayed over an offense — which is undergoing some alterations. And even though the Patriots are making some adjustments to their playbook in the wake of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leaving for the head coaching job in Las Vegas, Jones is versed in what New England is doing.

“We’re just a lot further ahead in the conversation,” Belichick said. “The plays that we talk about or concepts that we talk about, Mac’s already done them before, and it’s easy for him to say, ‘Well, are we going to do this on that? Are we going to do this on something else? What do you think about splitting them a little bit wider or splitting them a little bit tighter?’ Suggestions like that. That type of thing comes up all the time. Now it comes up with the background and the experience of doing it.

“He might have had some of the same questions last year, but without really having the full knowledge that he has this year. He’s just a lot further along in the conversation, and we have a much better feel for what he can do, what his strengths are and how to play into those.”

Before Patriots fans going running through the streets in celebration (or running to their sports book to place a Super Bowl bet), they should hear Belichick’s final thought on Jones and the offense.

“I’m not saying we’re there yet,” Belichick said. “I’m definitely not saying that. We’re nowhere close to being where we want to be or where we need to be. But we’re definitely making progress.”

If the Patriots have an impressive season in a crowded AFC, they will need Jones to be as impressive as Belichick has made him out to be during the 2022 offseason.

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Patriots' updated 90-man roster by jersey number for training camp