What Mac Jones said about Bill O’Brien, Ezekiel Elliott, Demario Douglas and more on WEEI

Patriots

“It’s the Patriots [offense], but it’s also for me, it’s Alabama [offense] too.”

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, left, sets to pass next to offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, before the team's NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass.
Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien have developed a good rapport during training camp. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Patriots QB Mac Jones appeared on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego” show on Monday afternoon, touching on a variety of topics such as the state of New England’s offense, Isaiah Bolden’s status, and much more.

Here are a few highlights from Jones’ extended radio interview:

Jones continues to heap praise on Bill O’Brien’s new system

Another day, another interview where Mac Jones is singing the praises of Bill O’Brien and the Patriots’ revamped offense.

New England’s offensive unit was regularly stuck in the mud last season, with a simplistic gameplan orchestrated by Matt Patricia and Joe Judge offering up little in terms of variety or contingency plans for Jones and Co. if drives started to stall.

Under O’Brien, the Patriots have already rolled out several different looks and schemes, leading to positive gains by both Jones and other key cogs of New England’s first-team offensive unit.

Installing additional pre-snap motion and run-pass options has given Jones and New England more options in any given situation, allowing more players to contribute in critical stages of the game.

“That’s something that’s cool about this system that’s been here for so long, it’s all about the quarterback and getting us into the right play, but it’s also all about everyone else, because everybody has to be on the same page,” Jones said. “It takes 11 guys and we’re trying to grow that part of it, and kind of get back to what we can do really well, and having multiple plays run at one time, and things like that.

Having an offensive coordinator with O’Brien’s resume should help craft a gameplan tailored to Jones’ strengths as the conductor of an NFL offense.

Not only is O’Brien already well-versed in some hallmarks of the Patriots’ offensive schemes (including Josh McDaniels’ system that Jones thrived in as a rookie), but he gained further insight during his time as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama.

“It’s super unique. It’s the Patriots [offense], but it’s also for me, it’s Alabama [offense] too, not to bring up the past too much,” Jones said of O’Brien’s offense. “He’s seen the system I ran at Alabama. … So he has a lot of knowledge of not only this system but Alabama’s system, so that’s cool for me, and a lot of guys on the team really respect that about him.”

Of course, all of the positive gains made by Jones and New England’s offense will need to be replicated on the field once the regular season starts.

But so far, Jones has enjoyed the collaborative effort that usually plays out between a quarterback and his offensive coordinator, especially during these critical preseason reps.

“He’s always very open to trying things, especially during practice. But at the end of the day, I know he’s the coach, and he’s going to make the right calls in the game, but it’s definitely a partnership,” Jones said of O’Brien. “You want to be able to work together regardless of who your coach is every time you go out there to have the trust in him, and then him to trust you to do the right thing.”

Jones believes Ezekiel Elliott is already making an impact with Patriots

He’s only suited up for two joint practices (only one that saw him take part in full contact), but Ezekiel Elliott has already fit in with his new Patriots teammates, according to Jones.

“I think Zeke, just talking with him and hanging out with him, he’s awesome,” Jones said. “He’s just a great guy. I feel like he’ll add a lot of, not only on the field, but things off the field. He just seems like a great leader.

“He’s already bringing the juice to the practices, and I love that about him. We’ve definitely got a lot of stuff that we want to work on together, but he’s already working really hard in the playbook and everything.”

Elliott did not play during Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers. But the former All-Pro running back is expected to be a key piece on New England’s offense, serving as the next man up behind Rhamondre Stevenson on the depth chart and adding more pass-catching and pass-blocking wrinkles to the Patriots’ roster.

“Mondre’s doing a great job, and the whole running back room,” Jones said. “I think [running backs coach] Vinnie [Sunseri] does a great job in there just keeping everybody to that standard.

“There isn’t a lot of dropoff between players, which I love. You’re in there with one guy, you’re in there with a different guy, but you know that they know what to do, and you have the confidence in everyone.”

Jones not surprised by Demario Douglas’ strong start

Demario Douglas has only played sparingly in New England’s first two preseason games against the Texans and Packers.

But given his regular stand-out performances during training camp and joint practices, the case can be made that the 2023 sixth-round pick has already earned himself a spot on New England’s 53-man roster, and Bill Belichick and Co. are trying to limit just how much film teams can compile on the rookie during preseason action.

Even though the speedy Douglas has put himself on the radar of many NFL fans and talent evaluators this summer, don’t count Jones as someone who didn’t know that the 22-year-old wideout had high potential in the NFL ranks.

“Surprise is an interesting way to put it, right? Because I’ve kind of known him for a long time and I know what he’s capable of,” Jones said of Douglas. “He’s not the biggest-framed guy, not the most impressive when you see him. But when you see him on the field you’re like, ‘OK, this kid can play football,’ and that’s what I love about him.

“He just has a big heart, wants to go out there and win and he’s gonna continue to do that,” Jones added. “I know that he’s built from the right stuff and really liked his personality, too. He’s really funny and brings a lot of juice to the field. So definitely happy that he’s with us right now and just gotta keep pushing along and making those plays.”

Jones said Isaiah Bolden is “doing better”

Jones offered a positive update on rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden, who needed to be taken off the field on a stretcher during Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers. Bolden’s injury prompted the teams to end the game early with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter.

Bolden spent Saturday night in the hospital, but was discharged on Sunday and traveled back to Foxborough with the rest of the team.

“Definitely a scary situation. I have known him for a long time,” Jones said of Bolden. “And definitely he’s doing better, which I know for a fact. And I did see him and he did give me a smile. So that was really good.

“You never want to see anybody go down like that on the football field or really any field, right? It’s tough. So just felt like we made the right move and just trying to pray for him. And I’m just glad that he’s doing better.”


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