New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Mac Jones were supposed to be the next great duo in team history. Heading into the 2023 season, there’s a rift between the two central figures in the Patriots’ organization.
Jones looked like the next Patriots’ franchise quarterback entering 2022. Coming off a rookie season with a 92.5 passer rating, a 10-7 record and his first Pro Bowl selection, he appeared to be an ascending player.
- Mac Jones stats (2022): 14-11 TD-INT, 65.2% completion rate, 6.8 yards per attempt
The Patriots’ organization was especially confident in Jones heading into the summer. Reports surfaced that the team was ecstatic about his dedication to football and rave reviews from teammates led many to believe he would become one of the youngest captains in New England.
Circumstances have changed dramatically in the months since. Jones is coming off a season in which he went 6-8 as a starter, even being benched in favor of Bailey Zappe. New England also fielded trade inquiries for Jones this offseason amid reports of a rift between the former first-round pick and Belichick.
Chad Graff of The Athletic recently wrote that the rift between Belichick and Jones is very real, with issues still remaining. The Patriots’ insider also provided some details on everything that happened in New England.
Unsurprisingly, losing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and replacing him with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge played a significant role in where things stand now.
As Graff detailed, McDaniels’ departure led to Belichick making Patricia the offensive play-caller and Judge the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach despite both assistants having no real experience in that area. It was viewed as a risky move at the time and quickly backfired on New England.
According to Graff, team leaders were ‘aghast’ at how bad the offense was in training camp. It matches reports from training camp when players privately expressed concerns about the offense Patricia was coordinating. People in the building soon realize the offense under Patricia and Judge wasn’t going to be successful.
It culminated in backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who had played eight seasons for the Patriots, voicing his frustrations with the coaching and offensive direction of the organization. In March 2023, New England cut Hoyer and paid him the $1 million he is owed while not on the roster.
In his second season as a starting quarterback, Jones lost confidence in the coaches he worked one-on-one with daily. As the Patriots’ offense continued to struggle and Jones committed more turnovers, the problems worsened.
The 24-year-old quarterback then went outside the organization for help. He sought advice from outside coaches and players on if what the Patriots were doing is how things should be done. Jones’s lack of faith in the coaching staff and seeking outside help was described by Graff as a ‘near-cardinal sin’ to Belichick.
The trust and confidence Belichick had in Jones before the 2022 season was gone, leading to New England scouting the 2023 quarterback class and evaluating the trade market for Jones. While it now appears the duo will remain together through the 2023 season, neither Jones nor Belichick is guaranteed a return in 2024.