Quick Slants

Curran: The idea that Belichick was ‘forced' to draft Mac needs to be doused

Who's to blame for Mac Jones? Our Patriots insider says Bill Belichick...

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New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones once again had an abysmal week, completing just 12 of his 21 attempts for a mere 89 yards in Sunday's 10-7 loss to the New York Giants. After two interceptions and a fumble, the third-year QB was benched for the fourth time this season in favor of Bailey Zappe.

Jones is off to a career-worst season, posting only 2,120 passing yards on a 64.9 percent completion rate with 12 interceptions, and 10 touchdowns. The 2021 first-round pick has also fumbled three times.

Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien took full blame for Jones' poor performance, but who is really to blame for his struggles? Our Patriots insider Tom E. Curran broke down how head coach Bill Belichick is solely responsible for all things Jones-related on the latest edition of Quick Slants.

"Here's what's interesting, as we try and relitigate what the Patriots should have done," Curran said. "There were conversations on draft night, 'Well, the Patriots didn't move up to get Mac [Jones], how much did they really want him?'"

🔊 Patriots Talk: Bill O’Brien goes deep on what’s ailing Mac and who should take blame | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

In what was once considered a loaded draft class for the quarterback position, the Patriots selected Jones at No. 15 overall, making him the last QB off the board in the first round of the 2021 draft. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance went top three -- in that order -- with Justin Fields falling to 11th.

Did the Patriots just select Jones with the thought process of taking the best available player for the position they needed?

"Bottom line is this," Curran added. "The Patriots had Cam Newton, who couldn't throw overhand -- Mac [Jones] beat him out during training camp, decidedly. Additionally, they had a team that had no quarterback, they had a quarterback who the 49ers at No. 2 were considering [instead of Trey Lance], and Bill [Belichick] loves Kyle Shanahan and the Niners' way of doing things. So Mac at 15 was an absolute layup."

Prior to Jones taking over at QB in 2021, the 31-year-old Newton led the Patriots offense. With a 7-8 record on the year, the former Pro-Bowler threw for just 2,657 yards on a 65.8 percent completion rate, 10 interceptions, and eight touchdowns. The Patriots' air attack struggled with the aging QB having a hard time throwing it deep.

"Would Robert Kraft have said, 'Well, I sure would love to see that kid from Alabama here'? I wouldn't doubt that," Curran stated. "But if you've been paying attention, you know that Bill [Belichick] has never been forced into anything while Robert Kraft has been his owner, including Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. Are you out of your minds that Bill's going to sit there and draft a quarterback because Robert [Kraft] told him to?

"They were all in on it. How do I know they were all in on it, Bill included? Because in August of 2022, Bill was talking about what a dramatic improvement Mac [Jones] had made since his brilliant rookie year."

Jones did in fact have a fantastic rookie year, attaining Pro Bowl honors. Playing in all 17 games, he threw for 3,801 yards on a 67.6 percent completion rate, finding the end zone 22 times with only 13 interceptions. He looked like a completely different player compared to the quarterback we've seen on the field this year.

"So, you want to relitigate whether or not it was Robert Kraft forcing Bill [Belichick] to draft Mac Jones right now?" Curran asked. "Go ahead, have at it. But the bottom line is, Bill is passing the buck if he's insisting otherwise and not saying 'that was me.'"

With the Patriots now standing at 2-9, all sights are set on the 2024 NFL Draft. Now projected to land the third overall pick, New England could look to replace the struggling Alabama product with the likes of Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, or give him a much-needed weapon in receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

You can watch the full Quick Slants episode below:

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