The New England Patriots won't hold their first official training camp practice until Wednesday, but head coach Bill Belichick already likes what he has seen from second-year quarterback Mac Jones.
According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Belichick had nothing but positive things to say about Jones when asked about his progress Tuesday:
"He's made tremendous strides. He did a great job last year, but he's starting from a much, much higher point this year from 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 was than a year ago."
The No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft helped lead the Pats to the playoffs as a rookie, and he will look to repeat that feat during his second NFL campaign in 2022.
While Jones was bolstered by a strong defense and running game, he still managed to put up solid numbers during his debut season en route to a Pro Bowl selection.
The former Alabama star completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and he nearly led New England to an AFC East title before the Buffalo Bills came storming back late in the season.
Jones' rookie year ended on something of a sour note. He threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC Wild Card Round, but he was also picked off twice in a 47-17 trouncing at the hands of Buffalo.
Belichick largely employed a conservative approach when it came to Jones last season, but it sounds like he may be ready to get more aggressive in 2022 now that Jones has greater familiarity with the offense:
"We're just a lot further ahead in the conversation [offensively]. The plays that we talk about, or concepts we talk about, Mac has already done it before. It's easy for him to say, 'Are we going to do this on that? Are we going to do this on something else? What do you think about splitting them a little bit wider? Splitting them a little bit tighter.' Suggestions like that.
"And we have a much better feel for what he can do, what his strengths are, and how to try to play into those. He's self-aware, too. He knows what he does well. We want to try to feature those."
Additionally, Jones seems to have more self-confidence entering the 2022 season after working on his body during the offseason.
Jones recently talked about changing his diet and how transforming his body has him feeling "comfortable, healthier and better."
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"I made significant strides... Fixing my body, feeling comfortable, healthier and better"<a href="https://twitter.com/PhilAPerry?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PhilAPerry</a> got the exclusive scoop with Mac Jones on his diet <a href="https://t.co/kamSKKEoxv">pic.twitter.com/kamSKKEoxv</a>
That could go a long way toward making Jones a more dangerous player during the upcoming season since he wasn't viewed as a particularly dynamic quarterback as a rookie.
Jones is tall, but he isn't fleet of foot and doesn't possess a rocket arm, which may have led to some limitations.
Now, Jones seems to believe he is better positioned to thrive in his second season, and Belichick's comments appear to echo that sentiment.
Jones' first opportunity to put himself to the test will be on Aug. 11 when the Pats face the New York Giants in their preseason opener. One month later on Sept. 11, the Patriots will open the regular season on the road against the Miami Dolphins.