New England Patriots

Curran: James White Says Mac Jones Has Plenty to Prove in 2023

Curran: James White says Mac Jones has plenty to prove in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones won’t be worse than he was in 2022. To borrow from Randy Gene Moss’ memorable 2010 postgame press conference, I want everybody to understand – you can print it, I don't care how you put it on your ink – Jones will be a good NFL quarterback in 2023.

From former teammate James White’s perspective, the sooner Jones shows that to be the case, the better. Because – like it or not – teammates do have to see from Jones what most seem to believe is there.

I asked White this week what piece of advice he’d offer Jones.

"Just move forward," White said.

"I mean, obviously, everybody is going to bring up last season and what they saw. Some people are going to be wanting (Bailey) Zappe to be the starting quarterback. But you move forward, put your blinders on, come in the same way you did your rookie season, put in the work, earn that trust of your teammates once again.

"Everybody in the locker room who's had an opportunity to be around him and play with him knows what type of player he can be,” said White. “If he just goes out there and earns the trust of his teammates once again, they're going to be just fine."

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So is Jones starting from zero in re-earning trust?

"Maybe I shouldn’t say ‘re-earn,’" White amended. "Just kind of go out there and ‘show them’ in a sense. I think they all trust him. But you have to go out there and show it in practice and show it week-in and week-out during games. Obviously, they got a little taste of somebody else behind them (Zappe) and that's kind of this generation now, everybody’s looking for ‘what's the next the next best thing?’"

White isn’t advocating for Zappe. What he’s advocating for is a decisive performance from Jones so any “Who’s the guy?” conversation in the locker room, stands or media is put to bed.

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"Zap played like, what, two games? They saw a few flashes of something good and said, ‘Awww, I need some more of that. They haven't seen a full season of Zap so they don’t really know," White said. "They could put Zap in there and then they’ll be calling for Mac.

"I think Mac is the guy. He’ll come in confident this upcoming season. I think he's the guy that will lead them to the most victories they could possibly get."

Devin McCourty recently said on Quick Slants that Jones won’t need to be told it’s a critical offseason/early season for him.

"He’s been a very focused, determined guy from the day he set foot here,” McCourty said. “We used to (say) like ‘Mac loosen up. It’s ok, you made a mistake. You’re gonna be better. It’s ok.’

“He’s so hard on himself I don’t think it would be the end of the world if someone tweeted him or sent him that clip (of Bill Belichick giving him a tepid but concrete vote of confidence during the draft) and say, ‘Hey, Bill’s supporting you.’ It could help him.

"But I don’t think he’s a guy who, if he’s reading bad things it makes a big difference,” McCourty added. “He’s a self-motivated player and I think coming off last year he’s going to have something to prove."

Both White and McCourty – monumentally important players to the second run of Super Bowls last decade – believe Jones has the ability to slay doubts.

"I think some of the things we talk about (regarding Jones’ upside), in the locker room they’re not as prevalent and that’s where it matters most," said McCourty.

"If (Jones) goes out there and performs really well this season, I think it'll be easy for that second season to be put to bed," said White. "He could be the franchise quarterback for this team, but he's got to earn that trust of teammates, the fans and everybody once again. The media as well.

"I know a lot of media think he's not the greatest quarterback because he doesn’t have the strongest arm, he can't run and all that stuff,” said White. "He’s more athletic than you think. He can make all the throws. It doesn't look as flashy as some of the other guys, but it doesn't really matter. If the guy can get the ball to where it needs to be and make the checks and do all the things he needs to do as a quarterback, then it doesn’t really matter how it looks."

It may not matter how it looks. But teammates will be watching closely to see how Jones answers the bell this year.

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