Damien Harris goes in on Bill Belichick for ruining Mac Jones in New England

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New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Mac Jones experience in New England continues to be debated among fans and reporters due to how bumpy the quarterback's tenure was. Expectations were high for the first-round draft pick, especially coming in after Cam Newton, but the Alabama alum never lived up to the task laid before him.

It wasn't just that he was drafted to a team with a history of unparalleled winning; it was that stepping in as the presumed next franchise quarterback after Tom Brady essentially set him up to fail before even stepping foot on the field.

How his career began and ended with the Patriots remains a point of contention that has people on opposite sides of an extreme spectrum.

They either believe with all their heart and soul that Jones was not given a fair chance to succeed due to improper roster building, poor coaching decisions, and a lack of confidence from Bill Belichick. Or they believe the total opposite and feel Jones was never talented enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and Belichick gave him more than enough to win games over the years he played in Foxboro.

For the most part, former players turned analysts agree Jones was never set up to do much of anything. They have expressed their belief that all blame should be placed on Belichick for failing to adequately build an offense around him.

And now we're hearing from one of Jones' former Patriots teammates who didn't mince words about how much he believes Belichick is at fault for the quarterback's career demise in New England.

Damien Harris blames Bill Belichick's bad decisions for ruining Mac Jones in New England

The 2021 season went far better than anticipated, especially for a rookie in Jones' position. He helped lead a less than desirable offense to a seven game win streak and took the team to the playoffs after missing the post season the year before.

It appeared as though it was a match made in heaven between the Patriots and Jones, but after Josh McDaniels' departure, it all came crashing down in a flash.

Former teammate and best friend Damien Harris spoke about his belief that the longtime offensive coordinator leaving after Jones' rookie season was the catalyst for his downfall with the Patriots. He detailed all that led to Jones being traded this offseason and didn't hesitate to blame Belichick's poor decision-making, mainly coaching hires, as the foundation of it all during a recent interview with The Athletic.

“What happened to Mac Jones in New England was not because of Mac Jones… (it) was because of the fact you took away an offensive coordinator who coached him to be a Pro-Bowler and almost coached us to winning our division. With a rookie quarterback… then you take Matt Patricia, who’s coached defense his entire life. Joe Judge who’s been a special teams coach… and then you just throw them in there and say, ‘Hey, coach this kid up. He’s a first-round pick, but as long as you teach him what I say, everything gonna be fine.’ S**t wasn’t fine. Now Mac Jones is in Jacksonville."

Hearing this from a player who experienced the now infamous 2022 season firsthand is pretty spectacular, especially since most current and former players avoid saying much of anything negative about Belichick. But it's fascinating to hear a different side to what was really going on behind closed doors.

Damien Harris believes Mac Jones was doomed before he was even drafted

Harris was on the team before and during Jones' tenure and even revealed the team's response regarding Cam Newton's signing and how that ultimately impacted the team as well.

The longtime Panthers quarterback faced a similar fate to his predecessor. He didn't have a formidable offense around him, contributing to a forgettable season in 2020. Harris suggested Belichick's mindset that he could make anything work, which took the train off the tracks for Newton and Jones, making him feel the legendary head coach did not do right by the young quarterback.

"I think that started kinda was this Cam Newton situation… everybody was like, ‘What the f**ck is this? Why Cam Newton?’ Bill thought that he could make it work. It didn’t really work. Then we drafted Mac. We had a hell of a year… went on to win seven straight. At that time we were kinda looking at ourselves like we might have a Super Bowl run here…

then the next year after that you replace… Josh McDaniels with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge and then look at the year we had that year… now Mac Jones is all of a sudden gone. I think that everybody can look at what I just said. And ultimately, just watch it for what it was and kinda say that maybe Bill Belichick did not do right by Mac Jones.”

Regardless of how we feel about Belichick and his time with the Patriots, or even Jones' three years with the team, it's hard to disagree with what Harris is saying.

Sure, he came from a stacked team with Alabama, and some feel that clouded proper judgment of his skillset. But he was asked to lead an offense to success that wasn't built to support a young quarterback. The fact he helped lead the team to the playoffs and nearly won the division as a rookie is impressive.

It's unfortunate how it all transpired, and we'll never know how much better it could have been, but at least both Jones and the Patriots seem to be on a better track heading into the 2024 season.

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