Josh McDaniels peeled back the curtain on Mac Jones winning QB1

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The New England Patriots have spoken at great length about how impressive quarterback Mac Jones has been in his rookie year. We’re not even in Week 1 and the Alabama prospect is the team’s starter.

It’s one thing for Patriots players and staffers to support Jones with words. But Bill Belichick and company have taken action by promoting the rookie, who the team picked at 15th overall in this year’s draft. The Patriots coach wouldn’t shed much light on how Jones won the job. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, however, provided more insight.

“He really works hard. He puts a lot of time into it,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “He’s been well prepared each day to come in and do the things that we ask our guys to do. He’s learned how to operate what we’ve asked him to operate so far fairly well. And he’s improved. And he continues to make progress. He’s generally taken care of the football. And he’s given the other 10 guys on the field an opportunity to do their job effectively and produce positive plays.”

Jones has gone so far as to study the defensive playbook, with hopes of learning more about defensive schemes. That level of preparation struck linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who admitted few rookies are willing to go to those lengths with their homework. That work ethic is what propelled Jones ahead of schedule in developing and learning the Patriots playbook off the field — and then beating defenses on the field.

“I really feel confident about his approach, his ability to learn, his ability to process information and really his ability to make a mistake and learn from those, too,” McDaniels said. “Because that’s a never-ending process for every player. He generally — he’s a great listener and he tries not to make the same mistake twice. Not saying that he doesn’t do that at times, but I think he’s really shown a strong aptitude at a young age to try to put those mistakes behind him and then move on and try to continue to improve as a quarterback.”

Improvement was the common theme of Jones’ training camp. Every day, every week and every offseason, players tell reporters the cliche: I’m just trying to get better every day. Jones was living proof of that, with the quarterback often showing obvious signs of development from practice to practice. He’d have a rough day — or even a rough series. But the resilient 23-year-old would return, suddenly wiser and more impressive. His teammates and coaches took note, and seemed to like working with him.

“We talk about trust a lot and offensively it’s impossible to go out there and play well if eight or nine guys know what their job is and do it dependably well on a consistent basis. You need 11 guys,” McDaniels said. “I think a key component of the trust is when you do make a mistake, you know will you show your teammates that you’ll try your absolute best to learn from it and then not make it again if you’re put in that same situation the next time.”

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