Socci’s notebook: ‘Huge work ethic’ helps Mac Jones make ‘dramatic improvements’ – 98.5 The Sports Hub | Hot Mobile Press

May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) heads to the practice field for the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports)

By Bob Socci

Tuesday’s inbox, like any other late morning, was overflowing with emails. Newsletters from newspapers and magazines. Notifications from retailers and podcasters. Press releases and political inquiries.

A few important or interesting enough to read right away. Some saved for later. Most, including many that still arrive despite repeated attempts to unsubscribe, are promptly deleted and unopened forever.

Two of them – one of the athletethe other sent by sports illustrated — contained nearly identical subject lines related to Monday’s top story in the NFL.

“Kyler Murray’s assigned homework,” read the first when he arrived just after 8 p.m

“Kyler Murray has homework,” announced the second, who showed up two hours later.

They cited NFL Network’s reported details of Murray’s new five-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals for up to $230.5 million, including $160 million guaranteed.

Essentially, Murray, who is nearing his 25th birthday and making the top pick for the overall draft in 2019, must study independently for at least four hours to prepare for each upcoming game. Work done in team time does not count. Multitasking by watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the Internet is not allowed.

It’s bizarre at best. Basically, it looks like an indictment of Murray’s work ethic and an invitation for the Cardinals to question their decision to trust him with so much.

Before any of Monday’s news briefings hit the inbox, Tuesday’s headlines were already being generated — locally, at least — in the first of a series of zooms from Gillette Stadium.

Tuesday morning, The Athletic and Sports Illustrated rounded up the top story in the NFL with a similar headline about Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray. (Photo provided by Bob Socci)

The morning before the official opening of his 23rd training camp as Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick stuck to his usual brief script on coaching titles, play calling, and assistant Matt Patricia and Joe Judge’s job descriptions.

Both are “terrific coaches in every sense of the word, whatever[their]jobs entail;” As with Belichick’s last media appearance in April, the Pats are still “not really big on titles and all that.” and also, Bill is “the head coach, ultimately (he) is responsible for everything. So let’s leave it at that, that’s it.”

Meanwhile, on the subject of his own quarterback, Mac Jones, Belichick spoke at more length than he usually does for a young player this time of year. From what he’s sounding like, there won’t be a need to oversee study halls or take on any mandates if and when he and Mac get a second contract.

“I think Mac did a great job,” Belichick said of Jones’ overall growth, which sounds proportional to his body fat loss, amid an offseason of bi-coastal workouts, healthy dinners and a (Tom) house call to improve his throwing motion. “He has a tremendous work ethic in all areas. I think there is a dramatic improvement.”

Belichick confirmed that Jones “certainly” contributed to the Pats’ widespread self-described tweaked attack, and later went through a list of Mac’s improvements. conditioning. Mechanics. Understanding the Patriots’ offense. Understanding the opponent’s defense. understanding of situations.

“He’s made tremendous progress,” Belichick continued. “His off-season work was significant. I think everyone realizes how well they are preparing and how much further they are than they were a year ago.”

June 16, 2021;  Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the New England Patriots minicamp at the New England Patriots practice complex.  Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sport

Bill Belichick has watched Mac Jones make tremendous strides since joining the NFL in Spring 2021. (Photo by Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

For three years in college, Jones prepared for the opportunity he took to start — and play — in Alabama. During his first spring as a pro, he braced himself for a chance to compete for the starting job on Opening Day. None of this happened without additional work on my own.

How else could Jones have controlled the Pats’ rushing offense so well coming off his first half of the preseason? And charge head down, eyes up through an opening created by Cam Newton’s absence to dismember the Giants in joint drills? And then quarterback, a 10-win playoff qualifier that ranked sixth on offense while recording the second-highest completion percentage by an NFL rookie?

Yes, of course Jones had his fights, albeit less frequently than his QB classmates. Even at his best, he left plenty of room for improvement. To his credit, Mac recognized it and told us as much as anyone else. Within minutes of January’s wild card loss in Buffalo, he announced he was getting stronger, better conditioned and a more assertive leader.

“Confident” was one way Belichick Jones described Tuesday. He left out self-motivation, not that it was necessary.

Later, players Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty and David Andrews also spoke virtually to reporters on the eve of their 15th, 13th and 8th NFL training camps, respectively. Slater was asked about the team’s young leaders and Jones in particular.

“It’s natural that people look to Mac because he’s the quarterback on this team,” Slater said. “I’m extremely biased. I think the young man is fantastic. I think he has shown great leadership since the day he walked into this building and I think he will continue to do so.

“We are all excited to see what he will be and what he will achieve, not just as a player but as a leader for this organization. He continues to grow in this role. Ultimately, this will be his team. In many ways, we’ll be embracing our quarterback’s personality. But he just has to be himself, because that’s good enough.”

meet expectations

When Chris Long retired from his 11-year playing career after the 2018 season, he launched his own media company and flagship Green Light Podcast, which has since racked up more than 10 million downloads.

Long’s Pod is primarily, but by no means exclusively, about football. For example, the latest episode features guest Leland Melvin, an NFL hopeful in the mid-’80s as a draftee for the Detroit Lions who became a NASA astronaut and the author of his memoir. hunt for space.

In the previous Green Light episode, Long reconnected with ex-Philadelphia teammate and fellow former Patriots Michael Bennett. For over an hour they spoke about football and life after football, including an insightful exchange on the mental health challenges faced by retired athletes.

During their conversation, they contrasted Urban Meyer’s failure to try, as Bennett described, “to build an organization built on the college mentality and built on fear” versus Belichick’s model of being “built on expectation.”

“Yes,” Long agreed. “He builds it on consistent expectation.

“If you’re setting a bar that’s consistent, and you’re just being factual, and certainly different players have a little different latitude, but for that individual player, the expectations are clear.'”

In light of Long-Bennett’s comments, this pod listener asked Slater to describe what the word expectation means to him in a Belichick Patriot context.

Captains of the Patriots

David Andrews, 60, Matthew Slater, 18, and Devin McCourty, 32, spoke virtually to reporters Tuesday before the training camp opened. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

“There is a standard here and of course Coach Belichick helped set that standard during his tenure here. And really, it’s about looking your best every day when you come to work,” Slater said. “Be responsible, be reliable and put the team first. That standard never wanes, there isn’t a day you walk into the building that it’s okay to lose that standard or that focus.

“Human nature sometimes tells you that maybe you should take your foot off the gas or make yourself comfortable. But I think Coach always pushed this team to always do their best. It doesn’t matter who was here, the players obviously change and will continue to change, but as long as he’s here he has an expectation of how this team is going to behave, how it’s going to do business.

When Andrews joined the Patriots in 2015, veteran offensive linemen Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer helped him understand what was expected on a daily basis. Eight years later he is doing the same for others.

“You have to prove that you are prepared and ready to go.” Andreas said. “As a young man who comes in, we talk about it all the time, just do your job. And that can mean so many different things. But in my opinion it wraps everything into one.

“Is it your job to show up five minutes before the meeting time and leave five minutes after the last meeting? Maybe some players can do it and do their job very well, others don’t. I was never one of those players. So that’s just my philosophy on it.”

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