NFL

NFL Draft: Belichick backs Newton as New England Patriots take Brady fan Mac Jones

By Sports Desk April 30, 2021

Mac Jones vowed to do things his way rather than by the Tom Brady playbook as he teamed up with Bill Belichick at the New England Patriots.

The 22-year-old Jones led Alabama to a national championship in the 2020 season and joins the Patriots after being taken with the 15th pick in the NFL Draft.

As a quarterback linking up with Belichick, who had Brady as his favoured signal caller for 19 years, Jones has a lot to live up to.

First, he has to dislodge Cam Newton though, so Jones is determined to play according to his own design and his personal strengths rather than look to copy anyone else.

Asked about Brady, Jones said: "I just love watching him, how he manoeuvres through the pocket and stuff. But for me it's just being myself and being my own player and obviously he did great things for New England and I'm just looking forward to going in there and working.

"I've watched all the Super Bowls, regardless of the team, so it was awesome. Obviously, Tom and the New England Patriots were in a lot of them growing up, so I got a chance to watch them and I just like good football in general."

Jones said he had watched previous Patriots games during the draft process, to get a firm grip of what makes the team tick.

Newton replaced Brady as Belichick's starting quarterback last season and has signed on for this year too, but his position looks set to come under threat in 2021 from Jones and Jarrett Stidham. The Patriots finished with a 7-9 record in 2020, while Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl glory.

Veteran coach Belichick, who described Jones as "a smart kid", said the process of getting the new recruit ready for the rigours of the NFL would "take a lot of time".

"Cam's our quarterback," Belichick said. "Whatever position, whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge and compete, then we'll see how that goes. But right now, Mac, he's just got a lot of learning in front of him."

Jones would not disagree with that perspective, wary of pushing himself to the front of the queue before time.

"Cam's awesome," Jones said, "and I've only heard great things when talking to people that I know from the Patriots about how great of a guy he is and how much everyone loves him.

"He just has fun with it, and I do too, so hopefully we can kind of have fun together and I'll help him out. It's his show and I'm just there to support him and then kind of just help out the team in whatever way I can."

Jones excelled in his only year as a starter at Alabama, completing 77.4 per cent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  He was one of three finalists for the 2020 Heisman Trophy, which went to his teammate DeVonta Smith.

Jones had been tipped in some quarters to join the San Francisco 49ers, but they plumped for Trey Lance instead with the third overall pick.

"I feel like, secretly, I really wanted to go to the Patriots all along, so I'm actually really happy that it happened," Jones said. "But it doesn't really matter.

"You get picked. You've got to take the opportunity and take advantage of it and learn the new system, learn the new coaches, learn the new culture, and coach Belichick's done a great job establishing that throughout his time in New England and I've just got to learn how to be a great teammate and do my job and stick to what they're telling me to do."

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