One line from Mac Jones’ first news conference of the 2023 offseason resonated with former Patriots executive Scott Pioli.

Following last Wednesday’s organized team activities practice, Jones said he plans “to do everything I can to earn the respect of everybody in this building again” after a disappointing and dysfunctional 2022 campaign.

Jones was placed in a highly undesirable situation when head coach Bill Belichick chose to replace longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with the inexperienced duo of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, but his handling of the ensuing struggles lacked maturity and professionalism at times. The back half of the season was filled with on-field outbursts and public displays of frustration from the young quarterback that sparked criticism from several Patriots greats, including Julian Edelman and Vince Wilfork.

Pioli, the Patriots’ director of player personnel during their early dynasty years, viewed Jones’ comment last week as an important step forward.

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“I absolutely loved his candor, and I loved his humility,” Pioli said this week on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” “What he had done was he came out and put public accountability on himself, not only to the media, but to his team and his teammates. I don’t know this for sure, but my guess is that he had a conversation with his teammates, manned up, owned his stuff and said, ‘Hey, listen, I wasn’t the best version of myself last year, not only as a player, but as a person.’ Because he alluded to that in his words.

“You all know this: Sometimes you can say things in private and try to convince people, but you don’t necessarily live that way publicly. I love that Mac Jones talked about it privately with his teammates, but came out and let his teammates know, ‘Hey, this (is) real. I’m not trying to con you guys. I need to be better. I’m going to be better.’ And again, to me, I love leadership when people admit their flaws or their shortcomings and mistakes and then try to do better and better. So I absolutely loved what Mac Jones did.”

Jones seemed more at ease last week than he did in many of his 2022 interviews. He’s clearly enjoying working with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, whom Jones called a “walking dictionary” of offensive concepts. Unlike Patricia and Judge, O’Brien has decades of experience calling plays and coaching QBs, and New England’s offense already looks more fluid and functional under his direction.

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“It’s been really good,” Jones said. “It’s been normal. Everything he’s done so far has been really good. I think the communication is the most important part, and trust — I think it all starts with that when you’re with a new coach, and he’s done a great job in controlling the room. I feel like everyone’s on the same page.”

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images