Mac Jones is a very attentive student.
That has been evident by his steady development from the time he touched down in New England to last Sunday when he threw two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ win over Tennessee.
When he’s not under center on game days, the rookie is front and center with his teacher/offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sideline bench discussing the immediate past and future.
McDaniels on Tuesday shed some light on what goes on during those between-series chin wags while the Patriots defense is out doing its thing.
“Those conversations, obviously it depends on the series, but he’s a guy that wants to do everything the best he can,” McDaniels said. “If we, for some reason, didn’t have great success in a series, then he’s got an urgency about him and a desire to do it better.
“So, what we’ve talked about as we’ve gone through the season is, ‘Let’s just focus on what happened, let’s learn from each play that we can look at on the pictures and talk through it and make sure that if it comes up again, because there’s a chance it will, that we get it right if we didn’t happen to get it right the first time.’ ”
It’s during those times that Jones has reinforced the confidence that McDaniels has shown in his pupil.
“He’s a very good listener,” McDaniels said. “He’s in tune with what happened. He usually gives me very good feedback for what he saw, which is a great sign for a young player.”
McDaniels indicated that when Jones is asked what a defender did on a certain play, the quarterback’s answers are invariably backed up by the photos studied on the sideline.
“We always try to tell the young guys, ‘Don’t make something up if you’re not sure,’ ” McDaniels said. “But he usually has a really good grasp of what just happened on the series he was just out there for and we have a good dialogue about it and he has good answers to any questions that I have.
“He has a great attitude about going out there and trying to do everything right, which I love.”
The third body huddled with Jones and McDaniels is veteran backup Brian Hoyer, who has proven to be a valuable part of Jones’s support system.
“Brian knows when to say something to Mac and he knows when there’s nothing to be said,” McDaniels said. “And I think you can only do that if you have wisdom — which Brian certainly does from the years that he’s played in the league — and he’s got great experience that Mac has definitely gained from.
“Whenever Brian speaks, I think he’s got everyone’s ear in our offensive room. Because usually what he’s saying has a lot of merit and can help our young players.”
The Patriots made a trio of practice-squad transactions Tuesday, signing running back Devine Ozigbo and defensive back Thakarius Keyes and releasing defensive lineman Niles Scott.
With J.J. Taylor on the COVID-19 reserve list, Ozigbo provides depth, as the Patriots have just Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden as healthy backs on the roster.
Ozigbo was an undrafted free agent from Nebraska who signed with the Saints in 2019. The 6-foot, 230-pounder was on the Jaguars practice squad to start this season before being signed to the Saints active roster. When New Orleans released him, he re-signed with Jacksonville, which released him Saturday.
Keyes, who goes by the nickname “BoPete,” was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2020, and has also spent time in the Colts organization.
Block the blitz
The Patriots were victimized by secondary blitzes that resulted in Jones being sacked twice in Atlanta (cornerback Darren Hall and safety Erik Harris) and once against Tennessee (safety Kevin Byard). It’s a copycat league, so it’s likely that Buffalo and others will try similar ploys. McDaniels has a simple solution. “Block ‘em,” he said with a hearty laugh. “Sometimes it’s not very complicated. When there’s a man running toward the quarterback and there’s not a Patriot guy on him, I’m not very happy with that.” … On the subject of pressuring QBs, Bills coach Sean McDermott had this to say about Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon: “You watch the film of him impacting quarterbacks, and it’s not fun to watch, I can promise you that.” … Looking ahead: Monday’s forecast for Orchard Park, N.Y., calls for lows in the 20s with an 80 percent chance of snow.