As I scrolled through this post from voluntary workouts at Gillette looking for high quality Patriots Porn (as I am often accustomed to doing), I found two pieces of erotica. One being James White (scroll to the 10th photo) looking healthy and downright jacked. And the other being Mac Jones (8th photo) simply being Mac Jones.
Because, in case I didn’t mention this already and I cannot stress it enough, these workouts are of the voluntary kind. As in the opposite of involuntary. Which is to say mandatory. Meaning there is no contractual, legal, moral or ethical obligation for these veterans to be there. And yet there they in fact are.
We can assume White needs the work after missing most of last season after blowing out his knee. Which doesn’t in anyway diminish the fact that this is him providing exactly the kind of leadership that has elevated him to the status of a guy who will spend eternity in the Pats Hall of Fame. But for now, my focus is on the presence of Jones.
First, let me acknowledge that you’re not supposed to compare the person you’re in a committed relationship with to your ex. It’s unhealthy. It’s unfair. It puts far too much undue strain on a good situation. There’s not a doctor worth having their own daytime TV show who wouldn’t advise against such destructive behavior.
So now allow me to do exactly that.
This is from Jeff Howe in The Athletic (paywall):
This shouldn’t be very surprising, but the Patriots sound ecstatic with quarterback Mac Jones’ offseason dedication. Jones has spent long hours at Gillette Stadium, often beating the coaching staff into the building to get a jump-start on film study for the day. He is also taking ownership of the offense, willing to vouch for plays and concepts that he likes and pump the brakes on the stuff that hasn’t worked.
It's impossible not to notice the contrast between 2022 Mac Jones and post, say, 2017 Tom Brady. To try to pretend there's not a huge difference in their approaches would be willfully ignorant of recent history. Brady talked about his need to manage his workouts as he approached 40. And also to spend more time watching his kids grow up. And you'd have to be the worst sort of fan to object to that or deny that he'd earned the right.
But at the same time, he was a guy who had always embraced his image of being the first one to show up and last to leave. Even as a rookie, Brady earned the coveted parking spot near the door awarded to the one who showed the most dedication to the offseason program. Stories about him beating even workout warriors like Rodney Harrison to the gym are legendary. When four teammates were sent home for being late due to a freak snowstorm in 2009 and Adalius "This Isn't the Jetsons" Thomas complained about it, all of us in unison pointed out that Gisele gave birth the day before and Brady still made it to the stadium early.
But somewhere along the way, that approach stopped. He no longer took part in practices that weren't obligatory. At OTAs in 2018, Belichick had a press availability on the field after practice. He got one question about Brady not being there, and with his deflector shields set to full power, declared he wouldn't talk about anyone who wasn't there as the press all filed away. The only other question he got was from one handsome, charming intellectual gent who asked him about people criticizing Jon Bon Jovi's Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame induction. And in retrospect, it only makes matters worse that once he got to Tampa, Brady went back to being the Workout King that he was from 2000 to 2016ish.
Jones is clearly bringing that same level of dedication and enthusiasm for the job that made a former Montreal Expos catcher prospect the best there has ever been. And based on another note Howe adds, it sounds like McCorkle’s attitude is permeating the whole team. (With the exception of N’Keal Harry, who’s a no-show. And has “no apparent trade value.” Super duper. Thanks for making an already distressed asset something the team will have to put at the end of the driveway with a "FREE DRAFT BUST" sign on him.)
New England veterans have been extremely encouraged with the team chemistry this offseason. The free-agent additions have meshed well in the locker room, and there’s been a different vibe over the past month.
Grown ups are free to live their lives however they want. And that includes obscure prospects who used hard work and dedication to make themselves incomparably great but then grew tired of the grind. But fans have the right to be selfish. And to prefer team leaders who are less worried about work/life balance than they are obsessed with being the best they can. And who instill that approach in their teammates.
Mac Jones. That's my quarterback.