The New England Patriots aren’t exactly known for making roster moves that fans would consider “fun.” Savvy? Sure. Shrewd? Absolutely. Under-the-radar? You bet. But not fun.
Bill Belichick really bucked the trend by bringing Ezekiel Elliott to Foxborough though, which also ran counter to the oft-repeated notion that stars don’t like playing for Bill.
And in an interview on Tuesday, Zeke revealed what it is that convinced him to sign in New England.
It’s a short interview and most of what he says are pretty boilerplate athlete talk, but three things stand out:
- He likes how much New England wants to run the ball
- He was impressed with Mac Jones on his free agent visit
- He believes he can compete for a championship in New England
Number three is a long shot while he’s on a one-year contract with the state of the Patriots roster this year, but Zeke seems drawn to the championship culture. He certainly knows a thing or two about being on the other side – having played for a Cowboys team that was always full of talent but never had what it took to make a championship run. That answer was also the most “canned response you’ll always get in an interview” of the bunch, so maybe take it with a grain of salt.
But the other two factors are really interesting.
First of all, we get a little forecast at what the Patriots’ offense is going to look like this year. The team has been going in a run-heavy direction since Tom Brady left, but it was unclear how the return of Bill O’Brien would impact things.
At least as far as the team has let Elliott know, it may not change things too much. Plenty of teams talk about being “balanced,” but the Pats have ranked 2nd, 7th and 16th in run play rate over the last three seasons, so it’s pretty believable that it’s a genuine goal again in 2023.
The other great piece is hearing how impressed he was with Mac Jones. Of course he had to give a positive answer when asked about his new quarterback, but he even had a specific example. Mentioning that he was impressed with Mac when they went do dinner during his free agent visit isn’t just a generic comment he had to make — that sounds like a case of Zeke genuinely being excited.
It’s not like Elliott has been around many QBs during his NFL career, but it’s great to hear that he likes what Jones is bringing to the table.
Pats fans are counting down the days until we get to see Zeke in some real game action, and his debut at Gillette can’t come soon enough.
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