Mac Jones’ job security with the Patriots has been the hottest topic of the offseason thus far, primarily due to Bill Belichick’s lack of commitment to the quarterback on several occasions.
It’s not surprising, considering the poor season Jones had in 2022. But with the many contributing factors that impacted the team overall, it’s difficult to accept the quarterback is worthy of sole blame for the entirety of a season.
It has appeared that Belichick is aware of that as well, as he let go of Matt Patricia after his contract with the Lions expired and signed with the Eagles last week and replaced him with a proper and experienced offensive coordinator in Bill O’Brien. Additionally, Adrian Klemm was brought in as the new offensive line coach, also replacing the previous role of Patricia from last season.
But with all of that taking place over the last few months, Belichick still refused to publicly support Jones as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, with his most recent comments taking place at the annual owner’s meeting last month.
Usually, it may not mean much since he is a man of few words. But as Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal mentioned over the weekend, Belichick took no issue with consistently proclaiming Cam Newton as the quarterback, despite his struggles and public pressure to replace him during the season.
His words, or lack thereof, on Jones began to hold more weight as it was reported the Patriots were meeting with projected first-round quarterback Will Levis before the draft. He was the only quarterback the team met with leading up to the event, and it was one of the last visits they took overall.
The timing, Belichick’s comments, and offseason rumors kicked off headlines regarding Jones’ future in New England. But now that the draft is officially over, NFL insider Ian Rapoport shared an intriguing theory for why they showed any interest in Levis before draft night.
"“Look, Belichick has not committed to Mac Jones over the last couple of months. My read—and this is just a read on this thing—is he wanted to let people wonder was he going to take a quarterback in the draft. They were never taking Will Levis, but they brought him into the facility for a visit.Maybe they wanted another team to jump over them if they wanted Levis. Maybe they wanted the team in the second round to jump over them if they wanted a quarterback. I think Bill Belichick liked the advantage of keeping teams guessing, and only after it was clear they weren’t taking a quarterback early could they say, ‘Yeah, Mac is our guy.’”"
Knowing that Belichick is the master of playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, this theory seems far more likely than the team being genuinely interested in drafting another quarterback already.
He would want to confuse the teams picking after him, especially those needing a quarterback, in hopes of them moving up or trading with the Patriots specifically. Although it’s not what happened, you can’t blame the coach for trying.
Fortunately for Jones and anyone questioning the quarterback’s future, Belichick did address the situation head-on when speaking to the media after day two.
When asked directly if Jones was the team’s quarterback, he confirmed he was without hesitation. And when asked if he felt the same way about him as one year ago, Belichick firmly said, “Absolutely.”
Now that we are fully looking ahead to the 2023 season, there is a lot of pressure on the Patriots to overcome their slump of last season and get back to being the dominant team of the past.
They selected phenomenal talent in the draft with their 12 picks, plus a few potential game-changing UDFAs. And hopefully, the new coaches create a better atmosphere in Foxboro, bringing much-needed changes for better results next season.