By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After five years together, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has certainly rubbed off on cornerback Jonathan Jones.
So much so that Jones isn’t worrying about a 2020 schedule that’s considered to be the most difficult in the NFL.
“I’d say I guess I’m conditioned by Bill [Belichick]; I’m conditioned to just know every year is a new year, every team is a new team,” said Jones. “Everybody has changes and their winning percentages from last year kind of doesn’t matter. You know, teams will go 0-6 to start and then pick up better. So just taking it one day at a time.”
While nobody is exactly sure how this year is going to shake out in terms of timing and attendance, the challenges for the Patriots are certainly there. Their first two road games of the year are in Seattle and then Kansas City (probably the two toughest stadiums in all of football), and Belichick’s squad will at one point have a five-week stretch that will include games against the 49ers, Bills, Ravens, and Texans. The Patriots’ lone breather in that stretch will come against the Jets, but in a primetime, Monday Night Football game for the Gang Green at a juiced-up Metlife Stadium.
The Patriots are also coming off an offseason that saw quarterback Tom Brady and linebackers Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy depart as free agents, while veteran safety (and known closer) Duron Harmon departed in a cap-related trade. To the naked eye, the Patriots are almost certainly in the midst of a youth movement and/or roster reset. That comes with its own challenges, even without a seemingly stacked schedule working against you.
But, again, all of that is secondary to Jones and the Patriots until they figure out who they themselves are in 2020.
“I think the first thing we have to do is get in training camp and figure out who we are as a team,” Jones noted. “That’s where it’s really going to start. And then, like I said, teams evolve as the season goes on, as every year. But we have to figure out who we are first. The other teams really don’t matter at this point.”
And while the Patriots can’t figure out who they are right now, the team’s virtual offseason meetings and workouts have allowed the Patriots to get on the same page in terms of their mentality, according to Jones.
“I think it’s to have everyone on the same mental plane as far as communication, refreshing that – I mean, even for the veteran guys, just hearing some of those terminologies over and over again – and starting from scratch,” Jones offered. “I think that’s something we kind of do every year. We don’t assume that everyone knows anything, so we start on the playbook from page one. “So, having these meetings and being able to start from page one of the playbook and go through that, as veterans its refreshers and young guys, it’s to catch them up to where everyone else is. So, I think the communication of that is so key.
“We’re missing the physical aspect of it, but just having that communication has been key.”