Since the start of the 2022 offseason, many debates have been had regarding the state of Bill Belichick and Mac Jones' relationship. What looked like a well-matched head coach and quarterback during just one season earlier seemingly morphed into what some deemed a tumultuous and untrusting partnership.
That narrative continued throughout Jones' sophomore season, with the tension appearing to worsen with the inclusion of Matt Patricia, who seemed to be the common denominator in most of the team's struggles.
By the end of the season, all the drama came to a head and burst into rumor after rumor over the next few months. Nothing was off limits with what was being reported; from revealing Jones allegedly reached out to his former coaches at Alabama for advice to the claims that Belichick never wanted to draft the quarterback, the stories were never-ending in the early months of the offseason.
It all culminated into the most dramatic rumor of all, as Mike Florio alleged that Belichick was shopping Jones with the intent of trading him before the start of the 2023 season. Although the story was almost immediately debunked by several reporters in the New England area, it added another layer to the speculated divide between the head coach and quarterback.
On top of that, Belichick didn't help the situation when speaking to the media on multiple occasions in the spring. Other than not naming Jones as the starting quarterback of the Patriots, he refused to even say his name when asked about him specifically. He also didn't shut down the idea of trading for Lamar Jackson, who was permitted to seek a trade before re-signing with the Ravens.
But now that the 2023 season is just days away, Belichick is now singing a different tune about Jones and seems more on board about him being the one under center than he has been in over a year.
While appearing on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Monday, he was asked about Jones and how he won the "quarterback battle" that so many believed was happening this summer. Belichick gave a detailed explanation, which he hasn't done for quite some time, and complimented Jones for all the improvements he's made through the last few months.
"Mac’s had a really solid spring and camp. Very similar to what we talked about with (Kendrick) Bourne. Out there every day, ready to go. (He’s) in excellent physical condition and, I would say, made a lot of improvement over the course of the spring and training camp in reads, decision-making and timing, getting more work timing with the guys he’s throwing to.
He seems like he — again, similar to what we talked about with KB — had a good camp, works hard, ready to go. I’m looking forward to the season here with Mac."
It was undoubtedly a drastic difference in tone and evaluation for Belichick while discussing Jones and the upcoming season, a welcomed change as the Patriots seek to get back on track in 2023. His recent comments seem to solidify the difference in the dynamic between him and the quarterback, something the pair discussed during the summer, referring to it as a "fresh start" for them both.
Now that the energy has appeared to have shifted in Foxboro for the better, Belichick couldn't stop raving about the hard work Jones has put in during the offseason and praised him for his performance over the last few weeks of the preseason.
"Comes to work every day, comes in early, stays late. Works hard, understands the offense, how it works, how to get his teammates involved, how to help them be productive. He’s had a really good stretch here in training camp and had a good spring to propel himself into this time period. It’s been pretty consistent all the way through."
The description of what Jones has done is on par with what his teammates have reiterated about his work ethic and character all summer, some even stressing the same points during Jones' rookie season.
All is well and good in New England now, with Patricia working elsewhere and Joe Judge being removed from the offense; the introduction of Bill O'Brien and better communication between head coach and quarterback has paid off.
Now we just have to hope it will translate on the field against real opponents starting this Sunday.