“We’re all good with this?”
Bill Belichick had to ask the question twice in the Patriots' draft room before submitting their first-round pick in 2021. The plan all along was to draft a quarterback with the 15th pick, so why double and triple-check with the scouting team, assistant coaches, and team owner? The answer is that the quarterback they wanted was no longer on the board, and neither was their second choice. The greatest coach of all time wanted to make sure that his staff was OK proceeding with draft leftovers, rather than trading out of the spot altogether.
Everyone agreed to proceed with the pick, and moments later, Mac Jones was a New England Patriot. There was no round of applause in the draft room when the pick was announced, and no enthusiastic high-fives among those making the decision. The Patriots were the last people in line at the buffet, and despite not liking the spread, they needed to eat. 2020 was a disaster, as Cam Newton was so bad at throwing the football the team basically employed the wing-T offense by season's end. They needed to draft a quarterback in round one, no matter what.
Despite the ties to Nick Saban, Mac Jones was not the quarterback that Belichick coveted. The reason he signed Cam Newton in the first place, and the reason he kept him on initially the following year, was because Belichick has always been infatuated with mobile quarterbacks. As a defensive genius, it has been the one thing he has never figured out how to gameplan for. Bill’s train of thought, and rightfully so, was that if he can’t gameplan for it, nobody can, so he needed his own QB with speed.
Things looked up for Belichick, according to the rumor mill. Trevor Lawrence was the guaranteed number one overall pick, and allegedly the 49ers had traded up to get Mac Jones or Zach Wilson; whichever player didn’t go to the Jets at number 2. This would leave Trey Lance and Justin Fields on the board, with one of them nearly guaranteed to fall to the Patriots. Bill’s preference was Fields since he was a more polished passer, but Lance would be acceptable as a project to sit behind Cam for a year. There was no shortage of sideways glances among the coaching staff when Lance went to the 49ers. Only one mobile quarterback was left on the board, and there were still 12 picks until the Patriots picked.
They all wondered, “Should we trade up?” Nobody wanted to wait and be left at the alter when it got to pick 15. No other quarterback was taken in the top 10, and if the team’s collective breath was held in a balloon, that balloon popped when the Bears traded up to 11 to take Fields. The next couple of picks passed by, and it was time to start talking about strategy. Trade back and hope a quarterback in rounds two or three are a diamond in the rough?
Would a team be willing to trade a quarterback for the 15th pick? The idea of enduring another season of Cam Newton, with no succession plan, was too much to bear. They had to go quarterback, and they had to do it now, so Belichick addressed the room. “We’re all good with this? Matt – you’re good on this?”
As it turns out, they were. Now, after being outplayed by a backup quarterback in 2022, and two backup quarterbacks so far in 2023, Patriots fans have to ask themselves, “Are we good with this?”