Mike Lombardi is so loyal to Bill Belichick, he might be the only person on earth who thinks Tom Brady misses his surly former head coach — besides Belichick himself, of course.
Belichick’s longtime confidante almost never speaks ill of The Hoodie, leading one to read between the lines whenever he lambasts Patriots players. Belichick and Lombardi are often in lockstep with each other.
Brian Hoyer is going to start this weekend for the Patriots
They must share a football mind!
This week, Lombardi, who worked as Belichick’s pro personnel director in Cleveland and as an unspecified assistant in New England from 2014-15, ripped into Jones over his three-interception performance against the Ravens.
"As much as I like Mac Jones, I thought Mac Jones would protect the ball and play smarter than he's played,” he said. “To me, he was in danger of either changing what he did, or he is going to lose his job. You're not going to play in the NFL if you keep turning the ball over the way he was.”
Wow. Lombardi says Jones, the No. 15 overall pick in last year’s draft, is in danger of playing himself out of the NFL. Even Skip Bayless is blushing at that hot take.
But the ex-exec went even further. Lombardi disrespected Jones as a player.
“Part of the allure for me with Mac Jones is that he was going to be a smart player. Protect the football at all costs. But he's playing out of control. What does he think he is?,” said Lombardi. “He's throwing the ball up for grabs. Seriously. You're not overly skilled.”
“What does he think he is?”
“You’re not overly skilled?”
Lombardi isn’t just offering analysis. He’s openly challenging the Patriots’ QB.
Tellingly, Lombardi doesn’t blame the coaching staff for New England’s woes. He shreds Jones for throwing 50/50 balls, while not acknowledging the Patriots want him to attempt those passes.
Lombardi doesn’t hold the coaches accountable for any of the team’s ghastly turnovers, including fumbles, which Jones can’t control. (While Jones threw three picks Sunday, Nelson Agholor’s fumble in Ravens territory after a 28-yard gain to stall the Patriots’ potential go-ahead drive ultimately lost them the game.)
Unsurprisingly, Lombardi was one of the few national voices who didn’t question Belichick over his bizarre coaching staff.
It’s apparent Lombardi and Belichick keep up a relationship, even when they’re not working together. Memorably, Lombardi was spotted at the Patriots’ Super Bowl walkthrough in 2012, a gathering usually reserved for team staff, players and family.
Over the years, Lombardi’s analysis has lined up with Belichick’s motives. Lombardi ripped Rob Gronkowski early in the 2018 season — just months after Belichick attempted to trade Gronk to the Lions.
Back in 2016, Lombardi laid into Jamie Collins immediately after the Patriots dealt him.
Belichick’s feelings on quarterbacks are well-established: he loathes the superstardom of the position. One of the most telling quotes about how Belichick views QBs surfaced in Ian O’Connor’s 2018 biography about him. An unnamed assistant said Belichick doesn't think Brady is all that special.
“[If] you gave us any of the top 15 [quarterbacks in the NFL], we could do it,” said the assistant. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. [Robert Kraft] thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”
That dovetails with an anecdote in Seth Wickersham’s tell-all Patriots book about how Belichick would sometimes joke with friends early in the dynasty that he wished somebody more drama-free like Philip Rivers was his quarterback instead of Brady.
Belichick is probably livid about Jones’ five interceptions. Lombardi is, too, and he’s arrived to the conclusion that Jones is to blame for all of them.