There is so much to unpack from the Boston Herald's damning report revealing the internal chaos going on behind the scenes in New England. From a lack of trust in personnel and disappointment from a forgotten offense to tension within the quarterback room between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, nothing was left unsaid by Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed.
Although most of the information had been speculated about during much of the season, it confirmed a lot of what was perceived to be the most significant issues impacting the team's performance, the most apparent of which was Jones.
After a discouraging 2022 season filled with a lackluster offense led by a regressing quarterback, there was optimism that things would turn around this year with significant changes to the coaching staff.
Sadly, it was clear that wouldn't be the case in the first month of the year, as Jones became a turnover machine, resulting in his benching in four games before becoming permanent.
The dramatic change in Mac Jones was evident this year
It was clear to everyone watching that he was a shell of his former self. We no longer saw a confident, veteran-like player who led the Patriots to the playoffs as a rookie. All that was left was a mistake-prone, jittery Jones who appeared like a broken player.
Unfortunately for Jones and the Patriots, the steps back he took in performance directly impacted how the team fared in games. It's ultimately why he was benched for Bailey Zappe a little more than midway through the season, and it's unclear if he is a player who can have his NFL career saved and turned around.
Apparently, that feeling amongst the fans was mutual, as the Herald's report revealed that Jones' "broken demeanor" essentially forced Bill Belichick to bench him. It wasn't because Zappe had proven to be a better player but because "an intact Zappe was better than a broken Jones."
"By the time Bailey Zappe made his first start in December, the internal consensus was he hadn’t beaten Jones out so much as waited him out.
Zappe continued to throw as many, if not more interceptions, in the weeks of practice leading up to that 6-0 shutout loss to the Chargers. He was no more accurate than Jones. But, an intact Zappe was better than a broken Jones, who turned the ball over three times before halftime of his last start against the Giants in November.
Under O’Brien’s tutelage, Jones fell from completing a career-high 35 passes in the season opener to getting benched in four of his 11 remaining games. Teammates recognized his confidence was shot when panic became a habit, and he would audible to a new but decline to throw to the play's intended target."
The acknowledgment of what we all saw watching from home is significant, considering some believe all the blame regarding Jones' decline should be on the quarterback's shoulders and his alone. But it would be unfair to suggest he's solely responsible for what has transpired, especially when we're all aware of the utter missteps with personnel and the roster by Belichick directly impacted him.
Maybe this is a good sign for Jones, who will want to get back on the field for the Patriots next season. They may be aware of what has affected his performance and he will be given another chance, even if it's just for the backup role.
However, addressing the entire offensive staff will also be critical this offseason; not just deciding Belichick's future, but an argument can also be made about O'Brien's fitness on the current staff.