Apparently, in the mind of Bill Belichick, Mac Jones made a grievous mistake. Perhaps, to Belichick, it was also an unforgivable one. Whatever is currently going on between the coach and the quarterback, Mac Jones is still paying a price as he prepares for his third NFL season.
Alabama football fans are quick to jump to Mac’s defense. To the extent he violated Belichick’s trust, the main culprit was likely the coach, not the player. The 2022 NFL season did not go well for the Patriots. Belichick turned over his offense to Matt Patricia, who had limited experience as an offensive coach and was more than a decade and a half past being any kind of offensive coach. For Belichick, Patricia was a Senior Advisor, the offensive line coach and the offensive play-caller.
The New England offense suffered. Only five NFL teams produced lower average yards of offense than the Patriots at 314.6 yards. Mac Jones was No. 21 among NFL quarterbacks, averaging 214.1 passing yards per game.
Patricia earned much of the blame for New England’s offensive woes. Belichick also got some fan heat for Patricia’s performance and stubbornly sticking with him throughout the season. Other portions of blame were heaped on Jones, who in 2022 did not show the promise shone in his rookie season.
A rift developed between Belichick and Jones. Mac was so frustrated with the Patriot’s offensive problems, he reached out to Bill O’Brien for suggestions. Reportedly, Belichick learned of the conversation and was irate that Jones had looked outside the organization for solutions.
Former New England coach, Eric Mangini gave his take on the conflict.
"There was a little arrogance to the way he approached things. And then he found out how hard it is to win consistently in this league, and how tenuous your position is and that you probably shouldn’t go outside the New England Patriots organization if you don’t like what’s going on."
Bill Belichick is entitled to run the Patriots football team however he sees fit. But his response to Jones talking to O’Brien is close to petulant. Mac had a professional relationship with O’Brien from helping O’Brien understand the Alabama football offense, soon after he was hired by Nick Saban. Belichick and O’Brien have a close association going back many years. Turning the shared connections into some level of disloyalty by Jones is quite a stretch.
New England Fans and Mac Jones
The best take on the situation comes from Musket Fire.
"… fans should be happy that Jones is on board and excited to work with Bill O’Brien and has been impressive throughout OTAs. We’re halfway through 2023 already, and it’s time to continue looking ahead rather than focusing on what happened in the past."
Is Bill Belichick prepared to look ahead with no glance back? Mac Jones does not have the 2023 starter job locked in and there were reports Belichick shopped him in the offseason.