American Football

“Every guy in this locker room believes in ‘Mac Jones.’

Baltimore was torched by a former Alabama All-American quarterback in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season, and now the Ravens face another in Week 3.

But does Mack Jones have the ability and the receivers to do to Baltimore what Tua Tagovailoa did in Sunday’s 42-38 win over the Miami Dolphins when he threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns — four in the fourth quarter alone?

New England Patriots safety Devon McCourty would say that’s the wrong question for his teammate. For Jones, it’s finding a way to win every week in the NFL.





Like the Ravens, the Patriots also lost to the Dolphins this season, 20-7 on September 11th. New England bounced back with a 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

“If you win the game, you can sit around and complain about the plays you want to get back, but at the end of the day you won and that’s what matters,” Jones said Wednesday. “It’s not about always winning super pretty all the time. It’s about winning, so that’s all I care about, all I’ve ever cared about. All other things take care of themselves. Obviously, like I said, you want to put good games stacked on top of each other and you need to have more consistency with that, but the really bad games come down to a little thinner. That’s the goal and you can do that every week and then improve. The wins will come and that’s all that matters. …

“Every week you try to improve. I would say we improved from Week 1 to Week 2. And it’s not just me, it’s everyone. We all improved and got better. We have a lot of games and we have a big one this week. That’s all you can tell it’s your last game. We won our last game so that’s all that matters and next week is next week. That’s all you can focus on. Not sure about the stats and stuff. I don’t really watch them. I don’t have much information for you. Like I said, it’s either W or L, and that’s all that matters.

It’s always been that way in his 13 seasons with the Patriots, McCourty said Wednesday.

“There’s not a lot of people in general who watch football and understand how to play quarterback, I think regardless, including you,” McCourty told a reporter who asked about Jones’ progress in his second NFL season, “so he would be crazy if he built his career on what people write and say about him because, on the one hand, there aren’t many people who have played the position at a high level and can do it consistently, so I think regardless in this league, you go out, you play as a rookie, you have success as a rookie, you go out there and do good things, it sucks to say it, but everyone is waiting to write bad things about you. That’s just how it all works. But I think he knows that in this building, every single person in the locker room believes in him. Everyone in this locker room sees him not only as a defender, but as the captain of this team, the leader of this team. …


“No matter what, we all come here with the same mindset. How can we go out there on Sunday and win a football game? And that’s the way the Patriots have been since I got here. No game will be exactly the same. Not always 30 points on offense and defense will keep them to 10 points. I don’t know how we’re going to win, but I know as a team it’s something we have to figure out. And between him and Dave (Andrews) and myself, (Ja’Vaun) Bentley and (Dietrich) Wise on defense, we have to do that every week. We’ve got to be the guys, the leaders on our side of the ball, to make the guys see that every week, as hard as it is, whether 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 , that it’s going to go well in the fourth quarter and we’re going to find a way to win. And he’s building on that along with everyone else on this team and I’m looking forward to continuing to try and make progress this season.”

The winning mindset came quickly when Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked to assess Jones’ development.

“He’s a guy who can play,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a winner — you follow him all the way through high school and college. But he runs the offense very well. He is very accurate. Gets the ball out on time. He can move in the pocket. He can climb if he has to. I don’t think he wants to, but he’s willing to do it and makes some yards when he does. A lot of respect, and he’s leading this offense and doing a great job.”

Harbaugh didn’t say the last of his defense after Tagovailoa’s fourth-quarter touchdown on Sunday erased Baltimore’s 21-point lead.


Against Miami, the Ravens had three defensive rookies — Kyle Hamilton, former St. Paul Episcopal and Alabama standout Jalin Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams — play more than half the snaps. And even though Marcus Peters is a two-time All-Pro cornerback, Sunday was his first game since Jan. 16, 2021.

“These are things that should never happen,” Harbaugh said of his secondary’s fumbles against the Dolphins in the fourth quarter. “They are below the line. I didn’t expect those things to happen in this game, but I also understand that we have young guys there. We’re putting guys out there for the first time in an NFL game against some fast players and things are moving quickly and the game is on the line. That could happen, so if we had a veteran group there, I would be more concerned about that. But I think these young guys will learn quickly. …

“They will learn from their mistakes. Sometimes lessons are learned the hard way. I don’t know how many times in the National Football League you go out there with a group of young guys and all of a sudden they’re doing everything perfectly right. When you face really good players in critical situations, it gets bad and it hurts. It hurts, but you remember those lessons.

When Baltimore and New England square off at noon CDT Sunday in the Patriots’ 2022 home opener at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jones expects a challenge as Baltimore plays its third game under first-year defensive coordinator Mike McDonald.


“I think their defense is really good,” Jones said. “They always have been. They have a lot of really good players this year. I think it was a really interesting game, for sure, but it was only a few games. They’ve done a really good job in their first two games overall, and like I said, the players are there, the schemes are there — obviously kind of a new scheme. They’re trying to learn it, they’re trying to communicate with each other, you can tell. Really, really good players, warm players in the second, good in forward positions, good as a defender, so we definitely have a full plate.”


Mark Inabinet is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.