Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and the Education of Mac Jones
By Andrew Beaton, Wall Street Journal
Jarvis Green was stretching during practice about 15 years ago when New England coach Bill Belichick asked him a strange question: “How’s your coach?”
”Who are you talking about?” a confused Green asked the Patriots coach. Belichick replied he was asking about Green’s college coach and Belichick’s longtime friend: Nick Saban.
“Don’t y’all talk every day?” Green asked. “Alright, smart ass,” Belichick retorted. “When you get a chance, go tell him thank you. If it wasn’t for Nick, I wouldn’t have ever drafted you.”
This spring, Belichick bet his team’s future on another Saban product. He used the Patriots’ first-round pick to select Alabama’s Mac Jones, the reigning national championship-winning quarterback who has so far outperformed all of his NFL rookie peers and taken the Pats to the thick of the playoff hunt at 5-4.
The moment New England drafted him, Jones joined an elite company of players: the ones who played for perhaps the greatest college and professional football coaches of all-time.
“It’s absolutely an advantage,” said David Morris, a quarterback coach who trained Jones before the draft. “He knows what it takes to be successful, he knows it takes a lot, and that’s not intimidating to him.”
Jones was the one quarterback in this draft class who bore a resemblance to Brady. In an era increasingly focused on mobile quarterbacks, Jones is an exception. He won a national championship under Saban because of his precision from inside the pocket.
He also thrived in college, Morris says, because of what he calls “productive paranoia”—or an obsession to be overly prepared. That’s a trait Belichick prizes. It’s also a trait Jones learned under Saban.
“There’s a standard of excellence there that is contagious and also becomes part of your mental make-up,” said Morris, who runs the QB Country training program.