Photos from his Alabama days in 2020 revealed a not-so-in-shape version of Jones. Yet, while that was hardly a major impediment to his performance in 2021, NFL football is an entirely different animal. Being in top condition is expected and essential.
Having had his dedication to his offseason work regimen questioned previously, accompanied by much negative feedback at the time, it’s clear that Jones has gotten the message that dedication to his physical shape is equally important to his dedication to on-field technicals.
Kendrick Bourne is one who’s already impressed. Soon, everyone will be. So let’s take a look at why this aspect is so important, even for a quarterback like Jones who makes his living primarily with his arm and not the rest of his physical abilities.
Patriots Mac Jones’ condition bodes well for the diversity of the offense
If Jones is indeed in top shape, this can only be an asset to the 2022 Patriots’ offense. It’s a good thing since the defense at this point looks worse than 2021. That’s not a good optic at all since they were destroyed by the division-winning Buffalo Bills in two of the team’s most important games last season.
There are several ways this is an asset. First, Jones will enjoy greater escapability in the pocket from the pass rush. Coupled (hopefully) with his additional weapons on offense, this means Jones can potentially extend plays and give the team’s receivers more room to improvise.
A second positive is that Jones will be able to withstand hits better when the offensive line breaks down. It’s interesting to note Jones’ self-admission that, in addition to being slimmer, he still has a lot of work to do in the weight room to become stronger. That’s a sign of significant maturity in the young man that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In his own words:
"“At the same time, I need to be able to maintain my weight and be able to take hits. There’s a fine balance for every player. I’ve definitely trimmed down on the body fat, and I’ll get a chance to bulk up before the season starts and be able to absorb hits.”"
Additionally, he had decent speed when he wasn’t in great condition, so we can assume there’s been improvement on that front.
Jones ran 4.68 and 4.72 40-yard dashes at his Alabama pro day prior to last year’s draft. Those are respectable times, and he wasn’t in top condition then.
With improved speed, roll-outs can be further incorporated into the passing game as scripted plays. That’s a nice addition (see Josh Allen and the Buffalo BiIls’ offense) since the threat of a run from a quicker Jones has to be respected, especially by linebackers.
Secondly, the Patriots may be able to deploy an RPO-style offense at times, making greater use of deception, which was something they were either unwilling or unable to use much under Josh McDaniels, especially with Cam Newton in 2020. More deception will create hesitation from defenses. Jones had experience in that offense at Alabama and can now perhaps run those plays with better control now that he’s shed some pounds at the next level.
These are a few reasons why Jones’ conditioning this offseason as well as his new look can and will make a difference for the Patriots’ offense in 2022. It’s going to be exciting to watch, and if the defense, hardly bolstered at all in the draft, is as mediocre as it looks today, the offense is going to have to pick up the slack in a big time.