Neither fans nor media were very happy with how New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick handled quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe earlier this season, and it turns out players inside the Pats locker room were also displeased, according to reports.
Belichick benched Jones early in the team’s Week 7 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, when Jones had just returned from an extended injury absence. The crowd at Gillette Stadium was not happy with the move, and Belichick’s actions afterwards did nothing to defuse the situation.
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Belichick spoke to the media on Monday morning, and refused to give specifics on Jones’ role with the team next season:
“Mac has the ability to play quarterback in this league. And we have to all work together to try to find the best way as a football team…to be more productive than we were this year,” Belichick said. “And so, that’s incumbent on all of us. We’ll all work together on that. And, again, look for better results.”
It wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence from a head coach to his sophomore starting quarterback heading into just his second NFL offseason, and had many wondering what prompted Belichick to treat Jones in such a way.
A lengthy column from Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard revealed that Belichick’s treatment of Jones was one of a few things that Patriots players were not happy with this season.
“That Belichick declined to endorse Mac Jones as the starting QB in 2023 likely won’t play well in the locker room,” Bedard wrote. “Several players were not happy with how Belichick handled Jones with the Bailey Zappe situation, especially against the Bears — there are lingering feelings about that.”
Bedard continued to write that players didn’t believe they were put in a position to succeed, which decreased Belichick’s popularity in the room. Mac Jones reportedly still commands a ton of respect throughout the organization.
If it is indeed a Jones-Zappe quarterback pairing when training camp opens later this season, it will be an intriguing storyline following the drama that plagued Bill Belichick and his players this season.