FOXBOROUGH – New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has liked what he's seen from Mac Jones so far in his meeting with him, but just like Bill Belichick, he isn't going to name him the starting quarterback early in the offseason.
In between Days 1 and 2 of the draft, O'Brien was asked how he felt about the Patriots' quarterback room as questions percolated throughout the offseason about Jones' future with the team and if the team would acquire a notable name at the position. They passed on drafting Will Levis on Day 1 of the draft and judging by the way O'Brien spoke about who he currently has in the Patriots quarterback room, it doesn't seem like they'll select one in the second round.
“Quarterback room has been really good,” O'Brien said during his first couple of weeks working with the Patriots' quarterbacks. “Mac Jones has worked really, really hard this offseason. He's been here every day. We just started working last week, so, basically two weeks right now and that's been good. A lot of good meetings – give and take.
“Bailey Zappe, same thing. He's been working very hard. A lot of good guys that care about the team, that care about winning. That care about what's doing what's best for the team That's always been the mantra here. Those guys have done a really good job of that. It's been fun to work with them.”
As O'Brien delivered equal praise to both Jones and Zappe, he's hoping both players are ready to compete when it's time to take the field. He implied that there might be some sort of competition when asked if there would be a quarterback battle.
“I think that everything that we do here is always based on competition,” O'Brien said. “That's been the same that it's been for 23 years, including the years that I wasn't here with the Patriots. Everywhere that I've been, whether I was working for Nick Saban or Bill Belichick or when I was a head coach, everything is earned in the meeting room and on the practice field. That's the way we've always been.
“I think every year is different. I think every year is new. The best players that I've been around in this league have had the mantra that they're going to earn it every single year. I think that's a big deal. Whoever I've coached, and I've been really fortunate to coach a lot of good players, that's been a good theme for those guys. They've come back every year knowing every year is different and that they have to earn every single year. That's what this place is all about. That's what we're doing, and we're off to a pretty good start.”
“We've only been able to meet with them. On Monday, we can start working with them on the field.”
If there is a competition, it's in the early stages. So far, the Patriots coaches have been only able to meet with the players and not work with them on the field. That will change on Monday, but O'Brien's enjoyed the learning experience so far as he said he learned a lot from tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki in a meeting on Friday.
“I think you learn every day,” O'Brien said. “I've learned about the players every single day. I've learned a lot about Mac. I've learned a lot about Bailey. I've learned a lot about Trace and all of the other players I've worked with – the offensive line, the wide receivers, the tight ends and the running backs.”
“I think every single day, you learn a lot from the players you coach in the NFL,” O'Brien continued. “You can learn a lot about the veteran players and their experiences.”