The regression of Mac Jones was evident to anyone who watched Patriots games over the last three years, and it seemed to reach an all-time low during the 2023 season. His ill-timed turnovers and mental lapses led to Bill Belichick benching him after the Week 12 loss to the Giants, ending the quarterback's third season and presumably career in New England.
Besides his performance seeing a dip, so did his relationship with his head coach. Unfortunately, that was clear to onlookers, as well, stemming from the year before due to the involvement of Joe Judge and Matt Patricia in the offense despite their lack of experience.
Although Belichick claimed publicly that the two had smoothed things over before last season began, their relationship never appeared as pleasant as it had during Jones' rookie season, a year when the pair were caught laughing on the sideline during a game.
The tension and deterioration of their relationship came to a head when Jones was helping the team lose more games than win, resulting in his removal from four games before ultimately being benched. And despite the troubles that continued with Bailey Zappe playing in his place, Jones was never put into another game to end the 2023 season, and apparently, some of that was news to the quarterback.
Mark Daniels of MassLive put out a detailed article surrounding the behind-the-scenes drama between Belichick and Jones, revealing it had gotten so awkward between the two that Jones wasn't even told he was demoted to third string nor that he was going to be a healthy scratch.
He found out, like the rest of us, when the team released their inactive report before the game.
“Not only was Jones demoted to third string, but nobody told him. He found out he was inactive when the Patriots released the list 90 minutes before kickoff, according to a team source. Leading up to this game, the quarterback reps were split differently in practice, but no one on the coaching staff told Jones why and no one told him he’d be the team’s emergency third quarterback.”
Based on the countless reports about how bizarre the atmosphere was in Foxboro last season, it's not all that surprising to hear about something like this happening.
But at the same time, no matter what he did on the field, Jones deserved the respect of being told about his demotion, especially since he was then a healthy scratch during a season he began as the starting quarterback.
This doesn't seem like a typical behavior for Belichick, who always had the attitude of telling it like it is, and the person on the receiving end has to deal with it. The fact he chose to just flat out stop speaking to his former QB1 is startling, to say the least, and provides more context to how off-kilter the 2023 season was on and off the field.