New England Patriots

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with quarterback Mac Jones (10) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

  • As Patriots training camp begins, one of the major storylines is the growth of quarterback Mac Jones. As Bill Belichick often talks about, the Year 1 to Year 2 jump is crucial in the NFL.

    Jones comes into this camp ready to hit the ground running. He’s been busy working on his game throughout the offseason, with his regimen drawing strong praise from his head coach.

    “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 told the media during his opening training camp press conference Tuesday morning, noting Jones’ growth has been well-rounded. “His physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses, of situations, all those things.”

    While most of the work Jones has done has been behind the scenes, some of it has made headlines. That includes working with Patriots’ receivers for multiple organized throwing sessions throughout the offseason, as well as getting himself in better shape as seen in an Instagram post from his girlfriend earlier this month.

    “He’s worked hard, he’s made tremendous strides,” Belichick said, explaining that the offseason work will allow Jones to make the most of the upcoming month of training camp. “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.”

    Here’s a look at some other highlights from Belichick’s Tuesday morning presser…

  • Emphasis on teaching to begin camp

    Belichick highlighted that the early days of training camp are more of a chance for coaches to give instruction and for the team to install its playbook – similar to spring practices.

    “We’ll continue to install things that we didn’t get to in the spring, and try to have everybody ready to go when we’re able to start padded practices,” he said. “This is really four days, five days of a ramp-up period. That will be a lot of teaching, iron out some wrinkles, working out a few kinks, and then be ready to compete and practice and play as we move into that stage. But we’re definitely no there this week.”

  • Offensive play-caller remains a mystery

    Of course, the play-caller question came up again, as it likely will throughout the summer. When asked specifically about the offensive side of the ball, Belichick seemed to narrow down the options to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

    “I think Matt and Joe are two outstanding coaches, in every sense of the word,” Belichick said. “Whatever those duties entail, they’re very good and exceptional at the gamut. I’m glad we have both of them, they do a good job.”

    Asked as a follow up if he has a timeline for naming a play-caller, Belichick replied, “I’m the head coach, ultimately I’m responsible for everything. Let’s just leave it at that, that’s what it is.”

    Later on, Belichick was asked the advantages of not naming an offensive or defensive coordinator. His answer was similar to ones given by the assistant coaches last time they spoke back in the spring.

    “We’re not really big on titles and all that. So I think everybody – it’s important that we all work together and create a good final product. That’s what we’re going to try to do. That’s what we’ve always done.”

  • Praise for Amendola

    Towards the end of the press conference, Belichick reacted to the news of former Patriots receiver Danny Amendola announcing his retirement.

  • While Tuesday is the official first day of training camp with players reporting, the first practice doesn’t come until Wednesday morning. It will be a 9:30 a.m. start. Training camp practices are free and open to the public, with gates opening at 8:00.

    Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.