It is not often that anyone in the media nor current/former players will willingly defend Bill Belichick or the Patriots. However, that unexpectedly changed over the last several weeks as New England continues to dominate the headlines for a multitude of reasons.
Because the latest allegations surrounding Belichick suggest he explored options to trade Mac Jones this offseason, it quickly became the week’s hottest topic.
It didn’t take long for several beat reporters to promptly debunk the story, though, citing their sources close to New England and teams named that Belichick reached out to. But the suggestion of it being a reliable story had people sharing their takes on the situation.
Earlier this week, we heard from retired receiver Brandon Marshall, who defended the legendary head coach from those doubting his accomplishments. Come Thursday, former head coach and likely still foe of Belichick, Eric Mangini, shared his take on the rumor while speaking to Colin Cowherd on FS1’s “The Herd.”
Cowherd detailed the latest rumor involving the Patriots, mentioning Belichick’s alleged grudge against Jones for reportedly seeking guidance from outside sources during last season. The FS1 show host explained he doesn’t see the issue, nor does he feel the quarterback is the biggest problem for the team moving forward, but asked Mangini his reaction to the rumor and who he felt was in the right.
"“Look, I’m a guy who understands grudges by Bill Belichick. But in this situation, I’m definitely siding more with him. I’ve always had an issue with the way that Mac Jones has treated where he was lucky enough to get drafted. I thought it was a perfect situation for him. I thought having Josh McDaniels and having that offensive staff that he had, and the system that they had, was incredibly fortunate for him and a really good fit. And it never felt like he appreciated it.”"
Although he’s not wrong in his assessment of Jones’ fit with the Patriots upon being drafted, the coaching staff dramatically changed heading into his second season.
There were better ways to set up a young quarterback for success than handing the keys over to two coaches with zero experience on offense. It was clear to nearly everyone that the decision to replace Josh McDaniels with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge was doomed from the start, with obvious clues demonstrating that as early as OTAs last year.
Yes, Jones had worked with three offensive coordinators during his time at Alabama and remained consistent and productive in his position, which is certainly noteworthy. However, being coached by people put into positions they are not familiar with will rarely be a success, no matter who the quarterback is.
Mangini mentioned Jones’ attitude after McDaniels left for Las Vegas and still defended Belichick’s personnel choices despite knowing how the season progressed because of it.
"“I remember when Josh left and (Jones) was like, ‘Well, that’s fine. I’ve had a bunch of offensive coordinators. I’ll just deal with the next guy.’ And I get what you’re saying. Bill’s getting up in age, but one thing you can’t accuse him of is being status quo. He tried something that nobody else would try. He took a chance that nobody else would take. And typically, that’s the trademark of younger executives, to push limits like that. It didn’t work, it didn’t work out great, but he was still trying to do something that he thought had a chance to potentially be really successful, and he’s always worked at staying ahead of the curve.”"
Considering Belichick’s choices were scrutinized from the beginning, with the consensus that the season would not be a flourishing one, Mangini’s stance is interesting.
Despite his take, the former head coach mentioned the possibility that there is more to the story than what has been alleged publicly. The Patriots are historically known for keeping things in-house, with not many details of their inner workings leaking to the public. So if there is any truth to this situation, it’s very likely we have yet to hear the full extent of it.
"“Well, look, we also hear one small part of the story. Who knows what else has gone on in the building. And who knows how deep the level of undercutting that the guys that were there took place. Maybe Mac Jones was fighting the decision from the beginning, which made it a lot more difficult for the decision to be successful.So, yeah, on a very superficial level if you’re looking at it as holding a grudge where he’s at and it’s just that simple, you do need to move on from it. But I’m guessing there’s more to the story, and there’s probably more than one incident that showed up over the course of that last season.”"
Whether or not Belichick was shopping Jones is irrelevant now that this story has been published.
We know that New England stands by the mantra of “ignore the noise,” but the drama surrounding Belichick’s feelings on Jones continues to be a hot topic, thus making it difficult for anyone to tune out.
Unfortunately, the damage is probably already done. Hopefully, the situation can be resolved before the start of next season, or we may need to prepare for another forgettable year.