Bill Belichick doesn’t commit to Mac Jones for Patriots

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Bill Belichick and Mac Jones #10 look on during pregame at Hard Rock Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Bill Belichick and Mac Jones #10 look on during pregame at Hard Rock Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

As the Patriots swiftly move into full offseason mode, Bill Belichick spoke to the media on Monday to address the entirety of the 2022 season. Of course, he was met with several questions regarding the offense, particularly fielding questions about his personnel choices and Mac Jones’ apparent second-year regression.

He opened his press conference with a lengthy statement recapping the team’s recent loss to the Bills while also discussing his feelings on ending the year with an 8-9 record stating, “We need to try to improve on that. Need to improve on it. So, that’s all of us. Accountability everywhere, starting with me.”

With that came questions about plans moving forward involving Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, two hires that have consistently been questioned over the past year. Because he had praised the coaches previously and defended his decision to add them to the staff, many assumed the season’s results warranted Belichick to fire them reasonably quickly. That, of course, did not happen. But he didn’t respond gleefully on Monday when asked to evaluate their performances.

"“Whatever we did in the past, in any area, whether it’s play calls, coaches, players, whatever, at that time is what we thought was best. We looked at our options and thought we picked the best one. Some worked out and some didn’t. Some were good decisions, some were in retrospect maybe not good decisions, but at the time, they were always what we thought were the best in every area. That’s the way it will always be and going forward, we’ll always do what we feel is best for the team. That’s what I’ll do, that’s my commitment. I’ll always do what I feel is best for the team.Have I made mistakes? Yeah, sure. Plenty of them.”"

Although not a stray from what we’ve heard from the coach in the past, it’s a far cry from his defensive stance when questioned about their given roles. But he wouldn’t provide a definitive answer when asked if either Patricia or Judge would return for the 2023 season.

"“We’ll evaluate everything that we’ve done. From me on down to everybody else and evaluate things and make improvements where we feel like we can. Again, there were a lot of positive things over the course of the year in all areas that we can build on. But in the end, it wasn’t what we want it to be or need it to be. So that’ll all be – we’ll look at everything.”"

Within that evaluation will likely be a decision on Jones as the starting quarterback for the Patriots. After finishing his rookie year with a winning record, making the playoffs, and setting rookie quarterback records with his performance, his sophomore slump was incredibly shocking. Considering the quarterback carousel that Belichick went with while Jones was injured, his feelings about the position seem relatively unsolved.

Since Patricia and Judge’s poor performances in their new roles directly impacted Jones’ year, it wouldn’t be the most ideal to move on from him after just his second season. But Belichick’s response when asked if he ‘envisions’ Jones as the starter going forward sounded like something other than a commitment to the quarterback.

"“Mac has the ability to play quarterback in this league. We have to all work together to try to find the best way as a football team, which obviously the quarterback is an important position, to be more productive than we were this year. So that’s incumbent upon all of us. We’ll all work together on that. Again, look for better results.”"

When deciphering Belichick’s answer, there are two ways it could be taken; his lack of outright support indicates he isn’t comfortable sticking with Jones in the future, or his previous acknowledgment of the poor coaching choices made for the season include the impact it had on Jones’ performance, therefore recognizing he deserves a better put together team to succeed in 2023.

With Robert Kraft expected to be more involved with changes this offseason, it’s fair to assume the owner won’t be inclined to let the young quarterback be benched or moved. Because he remains on a rookie contract and the free agent market for quarterbacks this year is set to be unexciting, building around Jones with better coaching seems the most obvious.

Despite missing the playoffs and dealing with a long list of struggles, the Patriots were the only one win out from the postseason, a sign that dramatic roster changes aren’t necessary.

The offense has strong talent that could be troublesome for opponents with a few more players added and a proper offensive coordinator to work with. The defense remained strong throughout the year, ending the season atop many defensive statistics in the league. With the right decisions made in the next few months, the Patriots could be right back in the thick of things as soon as next year.