These reports about Mac Jones, Patriots should give fans optimism originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Let's face it: The vibes around the New England Patriots haven't been great this offseason.
The Patriots stayed relatively quiet in free agency, adding wide receiver DeVante Parker but failing to make any significant moves while their AFC competitors stocked up with talent. They made several head-scratching decisions in the 2022 NFL Draft, seemingly reaching in Rounds 1 and 2 for offensive guard Cole Strange and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton.
Oh, and the team also doesn't have an official playcaller for Mac Jones, as Bill Belichick seemingly is content with letting New York Giants castoff Joe Judge work with the second-year quarterback following Josh McDaniels' departure.
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But if you're looking for reasons to be optimistic about the Patriots ahead of next week's organized team activities, The Athletic's Jeff Howe provided a couple Friday in his notebook column.
Howe noted the Patriots "sound ecstatic" with Jones' commitment this offseason, writing that the QB "has spent long hours at Gillette Stadium" breaking down film while often arriving before his coaches.
"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," Howe wrote.
Howe then added that Patriots veterans have been "extremely encouraged" with the team's chemistry to date, writing that New England's free-agent signings have "meshed well" to create a "different vibe" in the locker room.
Howe's note about Jones is particularly encouraging. The Alabama product lost one of the NFL's best offensive coordinators in McDaniels, so it's a good sign that he's already taking on a leadership role.
With no formal playcaller at this point in the offseason, Jones may feel more responsibility to call the shots, which should only help his growth as the team's franchise quarterback.
Patriots players do seem to be getting along well, too: Jones hosted many of his teammates for an NFL Draft watch party last month, while New England's skill players met up multiple times this offseason for group workouts.
Of course, hard work and good vibes can only take you so far, and there are serious questions about whether the Patriots have the talent to keep pace with AFC giants like the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs in 2022.
But while the team has faced plenty of criticism from the outside, there's apparently much less doom and gloom inside One Patriot Place.