How Patriots’ Mac Jones Strategy Differs From Early Tom Brady Approach

Is New England 'ahead of the curve' with its new rookie QB?


September 17, 2021

Comparing Mac Jones to Tom Brady is imprecise for reasons that go beyond the former being a rookie quarterback and the latter being the greatest QB in NFL history.

Sure, their playing styles are somewhat similar. And there seemingly are hints of Brady in Jones’ approach, both on and off the field. But Jones is a high-profile first-round pick starting right away in the NFL, whereas Brady was a little-known sixth-rounder thrust into action during his second season with the New England Patriots after Drew Bledsoe suffered an injury. Totally different situations.

Perhaps that’s why, in Charlie Weis’ estimation, the Patriots are developing Jones more aggressively than they did Brady at the beginning of TB12’s career.

The supporting casts — then vs. now — also are important to note, but Weis, who served as New England’s offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick when Brady broke into the league, definitely sees a difference in the Patriots’ handling of the two quarterbacks.

“There was a different strategy when Tommy started playing because we were loaded on defense,” Weis, who left the Patriots after the 2004 season, said Friday on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “So the way we played at that time — at least when Tommy first started the year– was very conservative. We were dinking and dunking, everyone was saying, ‘The guy can’t throw the ball down the field,’ because we weren’t throwing the ball down the field. Obviously, the Patriots now are doing a lot more of exposing Mac to everything than we did with Tommy at the start of the year.

“Now, by the end of the year (2001-02), (Brady) is running (the) two-minute (drill) to win the Super Bowl. Obviously, we went a long way from when he first went in there. But Mac/the Patriots are ahead of the curve as far as all the stuff they’re doing with him already in games, where probably it took us about half a season before we got there with Tommy.”

Maybe the Patriots really are putting more on Jones’ plate than they threw at Brady back in 2000 and 2001. Which actually makes total sense. Not just because Jones has passed every test to this point. But also because of their respective track records — and the perception of each QB — upon reaching the NFL.

Of course, we now can say with ease the Patriots should have wasted little time in taking the training wheels off Brady, who since has won seven Super Bowl titles (six with New England and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). But that’s with the benefit of hindsight. The reality is Jones arrived in Foxboro attached to lofty expectations, while Brady’s out-of-nowhere emergence proved stunning.

The Jones-Brady comparisons will continue. And that’s OK. Just understand it’s not a total apples-to-apples comparison, right down to how Belichick is grooming his new quarterback two decades after showing Brady the ropes.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images
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