FOXBOROUGH – A year ago, Mac Jones was commonly viewed as the best quarterback to come out of Alabama in recent years. Just two weeks into his second season with the New England Patriots though, the tide has seemed to change.

Jones ranks in the bottom half of all starting quarterbacks in passing yards (465), passing touchdowns (two), interceptions (two), and passer rating (82.8) as the Patriots are off to a 1-1 start following an unimpressive performance from the offense in Sunday's win over the Steelers.

Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts – Jones' teammates at Alabama – have led their respective teams to 2-0 starts with Tagovailoa leading the league in passing and Hurts having over 700 yards in passing and rushing combined.

While several people in the media have questioned whether Mac Jones has improved or even gotten worse at the beginning of his second season, longtime Patriots safety Devin McCourty had a message for the quarterback and those who might be questioning his talent.

“I would say first and foremost: Overall, there’s not many people who watch football who understand how to play quarterback,” McCourty said Wednesday. “So he would be crazy if he built his career off what people write and say about him because it’s just not — for one, there’s not many people who have played the position at a high level and can do that consistently.

“So I think no matter what in this league, you come out, you play as a rookie, you have success as a rookie, you go out there and you do good things – it sucks to say but everyone is waiting to write bad things about you. That’s just how everything works.”

Jones happened to be in the room at the moment when McCourty was asked that question. He said that he was going to be honest about Jones regardless.

McCourty, who's the second-longest tenured Patriot, noted how Jones was named a captain prior to the start of his second season as one of the reasons why he and the rest of the team trusts him.

“I think he knows that in this building, every guy in that locker room believes in him,” Devin McCourty said. “Everybody in that locker room sees him as not just our quarterback but a captain of this team, a leader of this team. It's been fun.”

Even though Mac Jones' play hasn't necessarily improved to start the season, McCourty's noticed that Jones has grown as a leader in his new role.

“I don't know how we're going to win, but I know as a team that's something we've got to figure out,” Devin McCourty said. “Between him, David [Andrews], me, [Ja'Whaun] Bentley, and [Deatrich] Wise, we have to do that each week. We have to be the leaders on our sides of the ball – to get guys seeing that each week, no matter how hard it is. No matter if we're in the middle of the game and it's not going well for three quarters, we've got to let those guys know it's going to go well in the fourth quarter and we'll find a way to win.

“He's been building that – along with everyone else on this team. I look forward to continue to progress this season.”

McCourty, Jones, and the rest of the Patriots will see if they can continue to progress on Sunday, when they host the Baltimore Ravens to try to move to 2-1 on the season.