Not since last summer has it seemed that Bill Belichick was fully committed to Mac Jones.
In less than a calendar year, the duo that should be the foundation for the present and future in Foxborough has felt like their relationship is a bit disconnected if not dysfunctional.
Along the way, we saw Jones’ on-field outbursts and frustration rooted in the predictably putrid offensive scheme and coaching he got from unqualified assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, guys handpicked by Belichick in an experiment gone horribly wrong. The former first-round pick’s emotions, according to NBC Sports Boston, made an enemy of his septuagenarian head coach.
Asked about Jones’ status as New England’s starting quarterback, Belichick said the day following the conclusion of the 2022 season that his young passer has “the ability to play quarterback in this league,” this league being the NFL where the Patriots play. Last month he updated his non-committal feelings on the quarterback spot by saying that “everybody will get a chance to play,” including second-year backup Bailey Zappe.
So last week’s much-ballyhooed report from Pro Football Talk that Belichick has “shopped” Jones in trade talks this offseason shouldn’t have been shocking, regardless of its dubious veracity.
Jones’ future in New England has to be in doubt on some level. He’s a third-year QB with one Pro Bowl rookie year on his resume and one really subpar sophomore campaign, his limited physical tools on full display in each of those seasons. As Jerry Glanville might put it, NFL stands for not for long for suspect young quarterbacks.
And if we’re being real-world honest, Belichick’s future isn’t exactly on granite at Gillette as he approaches his 71st birthday this week. Yes, he’s got six Super Bowl rings. Sure he’s a perceived GOAT chasing Don Shula’s all-time wins record. But he’s also 25-26 over the last three post-Tom Brady seasons. He’s got two losing records in that span, which came as a shocking development for his boss, Robert Kraft, who fired Pete Carroll for less.
“Bill is in charge of my football team,” Kraft said at last month’s NFL owners meetings in Arizona, almost like he was reminding himself, his coach or the world of that fact after their two-plus decades of success working together.
Mediocrity brings forth instability and speculation. So it’s only natural some wondered if Jones would even make it to his third season in New England. Understandable that others believe that Belichick’s time running Kraft’s team is running out, especially with Jerod Mayo waiting in the wings as seemingly the future coaching apple of the Patriots patriarch’s eye, now the obvious heir to the dynastic coaching throne.
But NFL insider and longtime Patriots reporter Mike Giardi offered a more optimistic view of the coaching and quarterback stability in New England. Joining the Fitzy & Hart show on WEEI on Easter Sunday, Giardi was asked to look ahead two years, to the 2025 NFL season, and whether he thought Belichick, Jones, both or neither would still be part of the Patriots organization.
Given the last year-plus, his answer was somewhat surprising.
“2025? I think they are both here,” Giardi said. “I don’t think Belichick is getting canned unless they are like 6-11 next year. Just saying. I don’t think he gets canned and I think Mac’s going to have…I just think what they did to Mac last year after what I saw from him as a rookie and thought, ‘Pretty good. He’s pretty good. Maybe not great. Maybe never the franchise guy. But maybe someone you could win with for the next eight or 10 years.’ They derailed that whole thing. And they cast doubt not only in their locker room but they cast doubt with fan base and we get the ‘Zappe’ chants. That was all self-created largely by Bill. Mac gets some blame, obviously, because it’s your performance dude, you have to own it. But they didn’t put him in the best place to succeed. And you saw what you got there.”
Could Jones be traded or lose his job in New England? Sure, maybe.
Could Belichick’s time in charge of Kraft’s team be coming to a close sooner rather later? It’s possible.
But offering up a bit of a differing opinion, at least one NFL insider sees the duo getting things back on track to stay together with the Patriots for at least a few more years.
It’s a relatively optimistic view on the working relationship between Belichick and Jones that certainly can’t be ruled out, even in the face of all reports of gloom, doom and dysfunction these days in Foxborough.