As New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones heads for a make-or-break Year 3 in the NFL, he’ll first have to beat out the competition on his own team. Speaking with the media on Monday, head coach Bill Belichick put the QB position along with the rest of the roster in terms of players competing for playing time throughout the offseason,
“Well, everybody will get a chance to play. We’ll play the best players,” Belichick said. “Every position, everybody will get a chance to play. Everyone that’s on our roster, if they earn the opportunity to play based on what they do in practice and all that, then they will get a chance to play.”
The lack of endorsement for Jones is on par with Belichick’s end-of-year press conference in January. When asked if Jones will start in ‘23, he simply explained Jones “has the ability to play quarterback in this league.” It is a far cry from last offseason when the Patriots head coach labeled him as their quarterback from the jump, noting his “dramatic improvement” in the offseason.
Like every player, the 2021 first-round pick has yet to earn anything this season, especially after a down year for Jones in 2022. Albeit in a rough situation, the sophomore QB noticeably regressed in numerous statical categories from his rookie season — most notably when playing under pressure. Belichick explained that he talked to Jones, as well as every player on the roster, after the season about how they can improve.
When rookie Bailey Zappe was eventually plugged into the lineup after Jones suffered an ankle injury, he impressed in back-to-back blowout wins against Cleveland and Detroit. The rookie did fall back to earth when replacing Jones in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bears, however. Jones then started every game for the rest of the year.
“As a team we didn’t perform very well last year,” Belichick said. “So, I think we all need to do a better job — that’s all of us.”
Both quarterbacks should be in a better position entering 2023 with experienced offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien now leading the offense.
“I thought it was the best thing for the team,” Belichick replied when asked why he brought back O’Brien. “Bill’s a good coach. I think he’ll help any position.”
While it would be a surprise if Jones is not the Week 1 starter, Belichick certainly seemed to keep the door open for Zappe to push Jones for the starting quarterback job during the spring and summer.