Mac Jones has been praised for his selflessness in the wake of his first NFL start. That didn?t come naturally for the New England Patriots rookie.
According to Jones, he was prone to selfishness during the nascent period of his football career. He had a me-first attitude, as many youngsters do. But long before the 23-year-old quarterback became a star at Alabama or a first-round NFL draft pick, he consciously shifted his priorities.
“I think just overall, it comes back to my family and what they’ve instilled in me — just always being a team player,” Jones explained Wednesday. “I wasn’t necessarily that way when I was really young. I can honestly say that. Sometimes it was more about me than other people, and that’s not how it should be. That was when I was really young, but ever since then, I just made it more about the team, because that makes it more fun. It’s not about me, and it never will be, and it never should be.
“Obviously, being a quarterback, everyone wants to hype you up and give you all this and that, and sometimes you need to take more blame than they give you and things like that. So I’ve always just tried to be humble and stuff, and it just works out in the long run. That’s the best way to be the best teammate you can be.”
When Jones said he learned this lesson at a “really young” age, he wasn’t exaggerating.
“I was probably like 6 or something,” he said, laughing. “I feel like when you’re young, I was so competitive because of my siblings. We always competed really hard, and I always wanted to win everything. And then once I got into team sports, my family’s kind of a tennis family, so that’s individual. Obviously, it’s you against one person or you and one other person against two people. So you have to learn how to be a good teammate (in other sports), and I learned that early on when you can do that (with) the people around you, it just makes it more fun.
“I never really was that way, but I just think early on, I definitely could have improved, and I realized that at a young age, just learning from my dad and things like that. Everyone at some point, I feel like they learn that — they should learn that, because you just want to be a great teammate in whatever sport or whatever you’re doing in life.”
Jones, who’s garnered rave reviews from numerous Patriots veterans over the past month, threw for 281 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins, completing 74.4 percent of his passes with no turnovers.
After his touchdown, receiver Nelson Agholor tried to hand the ball back to Jones to save as a keepsake. Jones wouldn’t take it, saying after the game that one touchdown “doesn’t really matter” because “we’ve got to score more.”
“He’s certainly not absorbed in selfish things or self-promotion,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. “I think he’s more about the team and how he can help the team and how he can play better. I don’t know what happened with that, but I know that is his attitude and mindset.”
Tight end Hunter Henry saw selflessness in the way Jones withstood Miami’s heavy pressure on Sunday. He absorbed hits from Dolphins defenders on nine plays and completed passes on six of them. One such play was his scoring strike to Agholor.
“He’s super selfless,” Henry said Wednesday. “Like, standing in those pockets and taking those shots and throwing the ball, it shows a lot to the linemen, to us, receivers. That’s big time. He’s going to continue to have to do that, and we’re going to have to protect him better. We’re going to have to do different things for him. But yeah, he’s a selfless player, and I’m excited to continue to work with him.”