Patriots: Matt Rhule and Bill Belichick ready for war on Mac Jones dirty play?
By Jerry Trotta
The New England Patriots made light work of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to improve to 5-4 on the season.
That wasn’t all surprising, though, given Sam Darnold’s track record against his former AFC East rival. That history reared its ugly head at Bank of America Stadium, as Darnold was picked off three teams en route to a 24-6 defeat.
Unfortunately for Carolina, their losses extended beyond the scoreboard, as defensive standout Brian Burns suffered an ankle injury on a sack-fumble of Mac Jones.
On the play, the rookie quarterback latched onto Burns’ ankle and appeared to twist it as the star defender tried to break free of Jones’ grip. It looked like a dirty move at first glance, and Panthers linebacker Haason Reddick was quick to call out the No. 15 overall pick during his postgame interview.
As it turns out, that criticism was fully justified, because Matt Rhule confirmed Burns suffered an ankle sprain and will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
While informing the media of Burns’ status, the Panthers head coach also jumped at the chance to eviscerate Jones.
Matt Rhule wasn’t a fan of Patriots QB Mac Jones’ dirty play on Brian Burns.
Is a Bill Belichick retaliation in the works? It might be, because the Patriots HC was adamant that Jones believed Burns had the ball.
Look, we’ll always defend the Patriots when it’s called for — and we obviously didn’t expect Belichick to chastise his own QB after a win — but what is the six-time champion talking about here? The ball landed five yards behind Jones after the fumble and there was a heap of players fighting to recover the loose pigskin.
Burns was trying to make his way towards that pile before Jones stepped in and performed the equivalent of the condemned “gator roll” tackle.
It’s tough to say that Jones intentionally tried to injure Burns, but the angles that have since surfaced are a pretty damning look for the Alabama product. The roll appeared discreet in real time, but it’s literally undeniable.
Amazingly, Burns stayed in the game, but that was probably off sheer adrenaline stemming from the dirty play.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re thrilled the Patriots pulled out the victory. But at what cost? Their rookie quarterback being painted as a villain for intentionally trying to injure one of the best young edge rushers in the league?
It may go down as a win in the standings, but it feels like a loss, and Rhule, who seemingly doesn’t have a bad bone in his body, laying down the hammer on Jones just rubs more salt in the wound.
It might be best for Belichick to just sit this one out.