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Bill Belichick switches up tone when discussing Mac Jones during draft availability

New England’s head coach was asked about the third-year quarterback on Friday night.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick held his lone media availability of NFL Draft weekend Friday night, which led to questions outside the realm of the college player selection process. Unsurprisingly, quarterback Mac Jones also came up as a topic.

After a tumultuous 2022 season, much has been made of the relationship between the coach and quarterback. It was even reported that Belichick had “shopped” Jones earlier this offseason, which the coach had no comment on.

“I’m not going to respond to the anonymous quotes,” Belichick said.

Since last season, Belichick has been non-committal about naming a starting quarterback. Speaking at the NFL owners meeting in March, he even seemed to open a quarterback competition when asked whether Jones would be the team’s QB1 or whether he’d compete with second-year backup Bailey Zappe for the job.

Belichick was then asked Friday night if Jones was his starter — after getting reminded that he never shied away from labeling Cam Newton his starting quarterback in 2020 and in the ‘21 offseason after the team drafted Jones.

“Mac has been our quarterback for two years,” he said. “As I tell the team every year, each player, each coach, we all have to reestablish and prove ourselves every year. That’s what this league is, so that’s for all of us: ‘23 is ‘23.”

The tone since last season surrounding Jones was a stark difference from last offseason. Belichick was highly complimentary of his sophomore quarterback during OTAs and training camp, and left no doubt about his status back then.

He was then asked Friday if he feels the same way about Jones now?

“Absolutely,” Belichick replied.

That marked a change in such tone, as Belichick was complementary of Jones after months of being noncommittal and not even mentioning him by name at the owners meeting.

As the Patriots then passed on multiple top-100 quarterbacks — such as Will Levis and Hendon Hooker — in the draft, the hatchet may finally be buried between coach and quarterback. If there ever even was one to bury at all.