Obviously, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been subject to some various rumors and media narratives as of late and on Monday, he took some time to respond to several of them.
Belichick spoke to The Greg Hill Show yesterday morning during his weekly appearance on the station, and there were a few things that were interesting from his interview.
The first was the fact that when it came to Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, questions centered around how things played out last week in practice and how their respective workloads were divided.
Belichick said during the interview that both split reps heading into last Sunday’s game, but according to Belichick, Jones got the majority of them.
“Mac got the majority of the reps,” he said. “But Zappe got plenty of reps this week.”
He also said that the reason why Jones started was because, “Just trying to move ahead there,” with Belichick adding, “Thought he had a decent week of practice.”
Unfortunately, this latest shake-up didn’t go well. Sunday’s game saw both players throw interceptions, with Jones throwing two in the first half before he gave way to Zappe in the second half.
The theme on both were similar to what we’ve seen from the former first-round quarterback all season. One was thrown off his back foot into triple coverage, while another was thrown on a 3rd-and-4 play where Jones had a blitzer coming free right at him, and rather than throwing it away, he instead tried to force it. That result ended up being his second pick of the afternoon and his 12th interception of the season.
Those are problems that Belichick said can’t continue, and it’s obviously been an issue all year.
“We just need to stop turning the ball over offensively, period,” said Belichick.
He also was asked if it was a mental issue with Jones, with the coach going on to say, “I think there have been multiple things this year. Just need to do a better job on ball security, decision-making, and so forth. Just too many turnovers. [We] turn the ball over too much.”
The other point of discussion was how the club closed out the game on Sunday. After crossing midfield and getting down to the Giants’ 22 thanks to a 13 yard run by Rhamondre Stevenson, New England rushed for 2-yards on first down, Zappe threw incomplete to JuJu Smith-Schuster on the next play, and then tried a receiver sweep to Tyquan Thornton that was stopped for just a 3-yard gain on 3rd-and-8.
From there, with the ball at New York’s 17-yard-line, the club used a time-out, which set up the ill-fated game-tying field goal attempt by Chad Ryland.
Belichick was asked on Monday why they weren’t more aggressive, which he disagreed with.
“We were trying to be aggressive,” said Belichick. “Threw the ball on second down, and thought we could get outside on the sweep on third down.”
The club had previously gone for it on a 4th-and-4 from the Giants 44 earlier in that drive, and the question was likely whether or not they could have converted a 4th-and-5 rather than settle for the field goal attempt.
Given where they were field-position-wise, it certainly appeared to be the safer play. Unfortunately, Ryland hooked it to the left and they came up short for the third-straight week as the Patriots dropped their third game and fell to 2-9 on the season.
Belichick was also asked if it was his decision to take Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick back in 2021, or if there was any pressure from Robert Kraft to go in that direction rather than targeting a different player.
That’s been a narrative playing out as of late, especially as things have deteriorated with Jones’ play on the field in recent weeks.
Belichick shot down any speculation he wasn’t on board with taking the former Alabama quarterback, telling Hill that it was a collective decision
“Organizationally, we felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said.
This has certainly been a season with some questionable calls, and it sounds like Belichick is somewhat beside himself given what has transpired here in 2023.
One play from Sunday that’s still mind-blowing, considering the league’s stance when it comes to player safety, was the hit on Demario Douglas late in the contest. On the play, the rookie was essentially clotheslined and knocked out of the game, leaving the Patriots depleted at the receiver position during a critical stretch that certainly played a role in the outcome.
How that was allowed and why it wasn’t flagged was stunning, with the next question being how the league will react this week and whether a fine might be levied.
Belichick was asked “if he was surprised” there was no call, and his response was somewhat telling, while adding that he’s hoping his young wideout didn’t suffer any serious setbacks.
“Nothing surprises me,” said Belichick on the non-call. “Yeah, we’ll see how he is today. Always, the next morning, the next day, is usually more telling than immediately right after the game. So we’ll see how he is. Hopefully, he’s OK.”
(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
One other story that came out of last week were comments by Dan Orlovsky where the ESPN analyst said he had heard that Belichick’s next destination was “already determined,” and that this would be the head coach’s last season in New England.
Belichick was asked whether or not he had indeed already made plans when it came to his future based on that report, and he immediately shot that notion down.
“Yeah, that’s ridiculous,” said Belichick, flatly.
He was then asked if he could imagine himself coaching elsewhere, with Belichick answering, “Just trying to do be the best job I can right now. Obviously, need to do better.”
Belichick’s former player, Jermaine Wiggins, who is a host on the show, asked him about the comments from other people when it comes to some of the criticism he’s received in terms of how he coaches given where the league is currently at.
The Patriots coach basically said he doesn’t pay attention to it.
“I don’t worry about what everybody else is saying,” said Belichick. “I’ve heard good, I’ve heard bad, it doesn’t … I don’t really care.”
He was then asked about the changes within the game itself and whether any of that is something he’s had trouble adapting to.
Belichick also shot that down, saying that the league changing is something that’s always been going on, and he also pointed out that they’ve lost quite a few games by a close margin this season.
“Coaching football is coaching football. Everything changes every year,” said Belichick. “It’s always a little bit different, but that’s part of the game. I have confidence in the team, I have confidence in our staff, my ability. We just, unfortunately, haven’t done well enough in all these close games. So we have to do better.”
Belichick was also asked about the situation at quarterback, with players after the game admitting they didn’t know who was starting until right before kickoff.
He initially deferred to Bill O’Brien, but also added that Jones was the lead player in practice and that it shouldn’t have come a surprise.
“Coach O’Brien meets mostly with the offense, but regardless, Mac took a lot of reps in practice, so it wasn’t a big surprise.” Belichick also said on whether or not Jones will start Sunday against Los Angeles, “We’ll take a look at it this week.”
This was discussed on NBC Sports Boston by Tom Curran and Phil Perry, who, according to players they spoke to, things were somewhat business as usual during practice last week, albeit Zappe did get more reps than normal.
However, Belichick was asked about comments he made back in 2001 following a loss to the Rams where both Tom Brady and then QB Drew Bledsoe split reps in practice. At the time, Belichick said that doing so was a disservice to his team, and he was asked why not continue to give reps to the starter?
Belichick answered flatly, “I did exactly what you said. Mac had the majority of the reps,” while also responding, “No,” when asked if it was 50/50.
He was also asked why he’s been so hesitant about naming the starter. “Because I don’t announce starters at any position,” said Belichick.
And round and round it goes.
How things pan out this week remains to be seen. Jones didn’t sound too confident during his own appearance on the station later that afternoon about his status for this weekend against the Chargers. Considering how last Sunday played out, it’s possible that, given where things are, this might finally be the week Zappe gets all the reps and receives the starting nod for the first time since last season.
All we know at this point is that someone needs to be better at the quarterback position. Unfortunately, until that happens, the circus will likely continue.
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