The foundation of most successful NFL teams starts with a strong head coach-quarterback relationship.
Perhaps it's no wonder the New England Patriots haven't been successful over the past season-plus.
The Patriots are now 9-13 since the start of the 2022 campaign after going 8-9 last season and beginning this season 1-4. Many attributed New England's struggles in 2022 to Belichick's installment of Matt Patricia as offensive play-caller, but apparently there was also noticeable tension between the head coach and his quarterback, Mac Jones.
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"Belichick alienated Jones last season, a truth so obvious around the Patriots’ building that (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft became aware and had to take the temperature of the situation."
Howe added that Belichick's treatment of Jones "rattled" the young QB's confidence and suggested there might be a carry-over effect to this season, where Jones has been benched in back-to-back blowout losses.
There were signs that Belichick and Jones didn't get along last season; NBC Sports' Chris Simms reported that Jones landed in Belichick's "doghouse" when he went outside the organization to seek help for the struggling offense, and Jones' on-field outbursts likely didn't sit well with Belichick, either. It got to the point where Belichick reportedly "shopped" Jones on the trade market this offseason before sticking with the Alabama product as his starting quarterback.
The hope was that new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien would help Jones rediscover some of the success he enjoyed as a rookie in 2021, but instead, things have gotten even worse than last season. Jones has committed six turnovers in the Patriots' last two games -- three of which have been returned for touchdowns -- to the point where internal confidence in the QB reportedly is waning.
It's only Week 6, so Jones can regain some of that confidence if he delivers a strong performance against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. But if he continues his downward spiral, it's hard to see Belichick and Jones on the same team past this season.