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Mac Jones is heading into a massive year as the starting quarterback — at least for now — of the New England Patriots.
Jones had a strong rookie season in 2021 as he finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting after leading the Patriots to the playoffs for the first time since Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the 24-year-old struggled mightily in 2022 and the offensive struggles led to the team missing the NFL playoffs.
One recent report shined light into the behind-the-scenes dynamic between Belichick and his young quarterback that many may find shocking, considering the style the long-time Super Bowl winning coach has found success with.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Belichick and his offensive coaching staff changed their approach to coaching Jones, a far cry from how the Patriots’ front man used to give Tom Brady the business.
“Belichick instructed the coaching staff not to be too hard on Jones last season, according to the same sources,” wrote Howe. “If Jones made a mistake or needed to be corrected, instead of yelling at him, the coaching staff generally took a more constructive approach.”
That’s atypical. Belichick used to loudly chew out Tom Brady in an attempt to set the tone for the rest of the team. The rationale:
Belichick believed, was that if the rest of the players knew Brady was in the coaching crosshairs, no one was untouchable. That ran counter to his approach with Jones.”The Athletic
Clearly the approach towards Jones — who was coached in college by Nick Saban who is known to be a hard ass on his players — was the wrong move for the Patriots in 2022.
This will change in 2023, particularly after New England decided to bring back Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator. The former Houston Texans head coach is known as much for his infamous screaming match with Brady as he is for being the mastermind behind the success of the offense during the “dynasty” years.
It is even remarkable to hear Belichick wanted to treat Jones this way given the six-time Super Bowl champion coach would frequently chew out Brady in an attempt to set the tone for the rest of the team. Belichick – and Brady – understood that if the iconic quarterback was being held accountable in such a way, no member of the team was safe. But it appears he has taken a different approach with the 2021 first round pick.
By the end of the season, the relationship between the organization, coaching staff and hopeful franchise quarterback had soured.
Belichick returning to traditional approach for Mac Jones
Belichick and the Patriots played the entire 2022 season without an official offensive or defensive coordinator. It did not go well for them.
New England went 8-9, finished third in the AFC East and missed out on the playoffs. It finished with the No. 17-ranked offense and No. 10-ranked defense in terms of points per game.
While the defensive side of the ball may not have been as big of an issue issue, the offensive side of the ball was a mess. The Patriots offense, on multiple occasions, failed its defense. Plain and simple.
According to a recent report from the Boston Herald, a large part of those struggles stemmed from the coordinators. Or, rather, lack thereof.
One source said that “Mac didn’t like him at all.”
Another said that Judge tried to “project like he was the guy,” which ruffled feathers throughout the organization. “A lot” of people were frustrated with the former New York Giants head coach and Jones did not have much trust in Judge.
At this point, it seems like 2023 is a make or break year for Mac Jones as the franchise QB in New England. Hopefully the addition of O’Brien leading the offense will turn it around.