This is especially true in New England. Not that they make bets on which of the fresh fish will burst into tears first, like “barrel your nose!” in Shawshank. But there is still a process that must be worked through to earn respect in Foxboro. Patriots newbies must wear pads. Get your hair shaved like you would with a lobotomy patient. Gotta do the slip & slide thing in the mud while getting hosed down by the veterans. In terms of Brotherhood harassment, it’s more civil than fellows who do things with the backs of a promise, but it’s not nothing either. Trust has to be won. It is not given.
And as part of that initiation process, you will never hear a newbie selected for anything. New guys are to be seen and not to be praised. Ask the head coach about a specific draft pick, and even if you waterboard him, you won’t get any more information about him than, “He works hard. Like everyone else, he tries to improve day by day …” is subject the entire team and not a 22-year-old who has never taken an NFL snapshot. And where the respective player was drafted doesn’t matter.
That’s a philosophy that has permeated the rest of the franchise for over 20 years. Coordinators and assistants, key veterans, deep men and squad bubblers. No beginner gets anything other than the “He does the job” treatment.
That is, up to that one particular rookie. Who impressed his seasoned teammates enough that they absolutely set him apart.
Mike Giardi, NFL.com – [A]after an odd campaign with [Cam] Newton below the middle, some real competition is coming up for Summer ’21, especially after what we saw this spring with rookie Mac Jones looking exactly like the part of the first-round draft pick he is . …
It’s not just the physical that stands out. The Pats threw it all at Jones, and his understanding of a game book that has been in development for over 20 years has been impressive. As an offensive teammate told me “Mac sees the game the way (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) sees it.”
There are people inside the building who would tell this player to slow down his role, that it is far too early to know if Jones is completely ready for what lies ahead. But the belief is that once Jones can consistently slow the game down, he will have the other attributes necessary to go from the quarterback of the future to the quarterback of the present. But how quickly can that happen?
“Mac, he’s a young guy, though You can’t just call him a young guy“Said Trent Brown at the end of the mini camp. “You can tell that he was in a place where he was trained. I think he’ll be special here in the future.”
“Good energy. Great guy. Can already feel his guidance“New Pats wide receiver Kendrick Bourne said during OTAs.” He has a swag on him that I didn’t know initially had. “
If you will excuse me for a moment …
It didn’t take long, believe me. Even at my age.
Listen, I understand that perhaps the wisest thing is not to go too far over our skis by reading too much into these comments. Any relationship that ends horribly started with enough good first impressions to warrant an actual relationship. Maybe a few words of praise from a few veterans are just their way of being nice to the noobs.
Only that this is not how it is done here. For nobody. Jimmy Garoppolo has never received so much praise. Also none of the first rounds, from Richard Seymour in 2001 to N’Keal Harry in 2019 or anyone in between.
Except that is exactly what was said in the scouting reports about Jones. That he’s mastered the pro-style offensive he played in Alabama. That he is smart and learns quickly. That he is mature beyond his years. That he was trained by one of the most demanding guys to ever carry a pipe. I don’t remember hearing about his “swag” specifically. (And if we’re honest, that word has stuck in my ears since 2002, when Belichick reportedly read that one of his players was using it in the newspaper and said to the team, “If you damn well think about it, we don’t have it did a brag. What we had was a sense of urgency, a sense of urgency, to play well, be smart and take every opportunity and situation that came up. It wasn’t about a brag. You can do this Take bragging and shoving it up your ass, okay? “) But when Kendrick Bourne, who went to a Super Bowl behind Jimmy G, discovers an innate, indefinable quality of confidence and poise in his new QB, I’m not one of them doubts. (Or picky about his word usage.)
The thing is, this may seem like doing a bipod landing on the leap-to-conclusions mat. But the rest of us use a much smaller sample size than these players. I base my assessments of Jones on the two times I’ve seen him in the office and the limited number of reports from the other times the media has been there. His teammates were with him at these OTA sessions and others, before and after training, at movie sessions and meetings. And they go beyond the usual platitudes with the word “work” as we are used to.
Am I reading too much into it? Possibly. Probably. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in what they say. The Patriots are overall impressed with what they have seen of Mac Jones so far. And when we get into July, I see no reason not to feel great about it.