It was clear from the moment Mac Jones began working with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels that they hit it off immediately. That respect was seen throughout the quarterback's rookie season, and their working relationship paid off on the field, as New England made it to the playoffs after missing the postseason the year before.
Since leaving the Patriots after that season to become the head coach of the Raiders, McDaniels has remained supportive of Jones and continues to speak highly of him as a man and a player.
Now that the two teams are set to meet again this weekend, he was once again asked about the Patriots quarterback amidst his recent struggles.
Unlike most of those in New England, McDaniels spoke highly of Jones and expressed his continuous belief in his talent as a quarterback and his ability to remain focused on the task at hand despite all that he's dealt with throughout his career.
He reiterated that when speaking to the media this week and even spoke about the commonalities between the Patriots and Raiders so far this season, sharing their similar struggles to remain in games and win.
"He's a very talented player. Accuracy has always been a huge part of his game, touch, anticipation. He has all those things at a very high level. They've battled the same bug we've battled, honestly, with the turnovers and losing opportunities through change of possession. So, I'm sure that's something that they're going to work hard at limiting and getting rid of, and it's the same thing we're talking about.
But this is a guy who's a very capable passer in every situation. He's played big in big games. He's battled against really good teams, made some high-level throws, and hung in there. Very tough in the pocket, gets hit and, gets right up, and goes to the next play. So, a lot of respect for him, a lot of admiration for what he did when I was there. It'll be a big challenge for us this week."
It's interesting to see the vastly different take on Jones from McDaniels compared to what is heard from Bill Belichick every week, as the former OC has consistently been more vocally supportive of the quarterback than the head coach.
This could be an example of McDaniels using the typical Patriots positive spin on players they don't believe are very good. But given the long-winded response and the reiteration of his complimentary words about Jones, it's more than likely genuine support than anything else.
It would be a nice change of pace to hear such words come from Belichick's mouth about Jones, especially now that he has recorded the worst games of his career (Belichick, too). However, if we haven't heard that open and solid support of Jones through three years, it's fair to assume it's never coming.
This will be a monumental game for the quarterback, as he hopes to get back on track with his performance and lead the team to a win in Las Vegas. After being benched the last two weeks due to costly turnovers, he will need a breakout performance to remain the quarterback for the rest of the season.
He will also have the added pressure of getting another win for the team, as they currently sit with one of the worst records through five weeks in many years. Because the Raiders are another team struggling to finish games, they're a good opponent to have next on the docket, and (hopefully) that will work in Jones and the Patriots' favor.