Peyton Manning likes to speak with each starting quarterback before his Monday night “ManningCasts” on ESPN2. But the Pro Football Hall of Famer’s attempt to chat with New England Patriots rookie Mac Jones proved unsuccessful.
During the Patriots’ 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills, Manning said on ESPN2 that New England “denied” his request for a phone call with Jones. Manning viewed this as Bill Belichick wanting to “protect” his young QB and limit his “off-the-field distractions,” which he said he understood.
One day later, Jones was asked on WEEI’s “Merloni & Fauria” why he didn’t talk with Manning ahead of his “Monday Night Football” debut.
“I mean, I texted him or whatever,” Jones replied. “I’m not going to get into details, but I think we were just trying to focus on the game, and the Patriots do a great job of just helping me be focused on what I need to be focused on. I always liked that in college, too.”
Jones’ college coach was Belichick’s longtime friend Nick Saban, so those similarities are unsurprising. The 23-year-old made clear that he doesn’t have any personal issue with Manning.
“I’ve talked to him and his family. They’re great people,” Jones said. “I’ve been in contact with them throughout the whole process. Even with (Peyton and Eli’s father) Archie, too. He’s been a great resource to me.”
Manning said the Indianapolis Colts took a similar approach when he was a highly touted NFL rookie.
“It was the first quarterback I haven’t talked to, but I appreciate it,” the retired signal-caller said on ESPN’s alternate broadcast. “Bill Polian, as a rookie with me with the Colts did the same thing. He didn’t let the marketing department talk to me, the community relations department talk to me. He said, ‘Hey, it’s all football this first season. Don’t bother him.’ And I think the Patriots are taking that same approach with Mac Jones and it’s paying off, it’s working.”
Indeed. Jones has steered the Patriots to a 9-4 record in his first pro season, including wins in each of their last seven games. The Alabama product leads all rookie quarterbacks in nearly every statistical category, but he was a passenger in Monday’s wind-swept victory over Buffalo, attempting just three total passes.