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What's With Ted Johnson Tearing Mac Jones a New One for Saying the Pats Didn't Practice Well Enough?

Somewhere in this 3:39 clip, Mac Jones stood before the assembled media in Indy and said:

“I just think we, starting with me, the energy was kind of low, maybe like feeling a little sorry for ourselves because we’re coming off the bye and stuff. Not to get into details, but we just didn’t practice well, and that just reflects how we played. And I didn’t practice good, and I know a lot of guys on our team felt the same way.”

Which I took to be yet another positive step in the steadily rising ascent of the 23-year-old's career trajectory. An acknowledgement that the Patriots didn't play well enough. A recognition that how you perform on game day is a product of how well you prepare. And an admission that his team underperformed Saturday because they underperformed in practices during the week, and that's unacceptable. Change a word or two (beginning with "... and stuff"), and this could be a quote from any loss of Tom Brady's career. The kind of thing that would get him praised for being candid, honest, accountable, and above all, a team leader. Someone who accepts personal blame while still completely buying into the team concept. 

And refreshing to hear from a rookie with only 14 career games. The kind of thing that, when I first heard it, made me think of how well he was coached by Nick Saban to handle not just adversity, but also the media and his role as a leader on a veteran team. But what do I know? I never played for anyone but my freshman football coach. And not even for him, if I'm being honest. 

Ted Johnson did play for this team and this head coach. And Jones' comments pissed him off no end. It would appear one man's accountability is another man's indignant outrage. 

“I was surprised by that because it was so off-script for Mac Jones. He’s always stuck to the script — cliché 101. This time he went off script and I was really surprised to hear him say that we were feeling sorry for ourselves. About what? You just came off a bye week. Is it because you played on a Monday night and then you had to play on a Saturday night? Get over it, boys. It’s ring-chasing time now.

“And him saying they had a bad week of practice and that their energy level was low — you’re a rookie, keep your mouth shut. That’s not going to play well in the locker room.

“My feeling is Bill Belichick probably had him say it. I think Bill Belichick wanted the message to go through Mac Jones, call out his players. It would be atypical of Bill this year to come down really hard on this team. So, to me, that was some orders from Bill because I can’t imagine Mac Jones going off script like he did, criticizing the team’s energy and their preparation going into this week. When you’re a rookie quarterback, you’re not supposed to say stuff like that.”  


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A "The Floor is Lava" take from Ted Johnson if ever there was one. 

Look, it's not the first this member of the early Three Ring Club was critical of Belichick. He's been up front about saying that he was sent out to play with concussions that should've put him on IR and placed the blame squarely on the coach. But it's a hell of a leap to go from that grudge to saying that Belichick just used his rookie to go after the other 52 players on his roster. And that by doing so, Jones just alienated every one of his teammates.

Consider the logic here. Did Belichick suddenly get shy about tearing into his coaches and players for not preparing well enough? So now he had to order someone else to say it for him? I know that public speaking is most people's number one fear, ahead of even death. But he never struck me as someone who needed a surrogate to speak his mind for him. Especially not at the risk of setting fire to the career of the guy he's looking to take him to his next six championships. Even if you told me he was sending some replaceable special teamer or roster bubble guy in to take that hit for him like some Imperial Stormtrooper, I'd have a hard time believing it. So I can't suspend credulity enough to think he'd tab Mac Jones to do his evil bidding for him. But Ted Johnson begs to differ. 

Sorry, but I'm not buying it. There's no way this was anything other than a guy who is mature beyond his years sending a message to his team and himself that this week's prep has to be better. He's the direct descendant of another hyper-focused preparation junkie quarterback who obsessed over perfection his entire New England career. I call to mind that story Ross Tucker has told about the first rep of camp when he was in Foxboro and Tom Brady pulled him aside to tell him, "Let's get a good snap. It all starts with you and me." 

One of the things that made so invested in the Patriots drafting Jones was that the negative everyone put on him, that he was on a team loaded with 1st round picks, was to me a positive. It meant he had experience commanding a huddle loaded with talented, ambitious Alphas. Which he has done since he got here. Both on the field and off. So "Keep your mouth shut?" I'd be disappointed if he didn't talk. Or if he talked but didn't back it up. Which he has done, beyond anyone's expectations. 

Soo I'll cast my lot with Julian Edelman, who went on Pardon My Take and interpreted Jones words the same way I did. But with his own experience thrown in:

With all due respect to Ted Johnson, who helped lay the foundation of this Dynasty, fought and sacrificed to make it a reality, when in doubt, I'll always take the word of a former Patriots three time champion who hasn't made a post-football career out of being pissed off at Bill Belichick. Disappointing, to say the least.

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