Belichick keeping Jones, Zappe on edge after draft

Mike Florio and Chris Simms dissect Bill Belichick’s remarks about everyone needing to reestablish and prove themselves every year and discuss who the Patriots will start at QB next season.

Video Transcript

MIKE FLORIO: Bill Belichick, Mac Jones-- the questions continue as to whether or not they are on the same page, whether or not Mac Jones is the guy in New England. Here's Belichick from over the weekend on trade rumors for Mac Jones and how the head coach in New England views the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

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BILL BELICHICK: You know, Mac's been our quarterback for two years. And 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.

2023 is-- '23 is '23. We'll see how '23 goes.


MIKE FLORIO: You know, he's pressed on this question of Mac's status. It's still not the kind of presumed "he's our guy" that we would have heard when Tom Brady was there. And that's how I compare everything Bill Belichick says about Mac Jones. I compare it to what he would have said if he was asked the same question about Tom Brady.


And he'd scoff at the questions he's getting about Jones if he was getting those questions about Brady. He's clearly on tenuous footing. And this gets back to what I was talking about earlier. It's one of the reasons why I eventually turned off the TV from both channels on Saturday. When you get the drive-by talk radio crowd from the guys who don't cover the NFL every single day, oh, they didn't draft a quarterback, so they're behind Mac Jones.

They still have Bailey Zappe. They didn't need to draft a quarterback or not draft a quarterback to resolve the Mac Jones question. They've already made it clear it's Jones versus Zappe. Not drafting a quarterback is irrelevant, Chris, to whether or not it's gonna be Jones or whether or not it's gonna be Zappe.

CHRIS SIMMS: No, agreed. I don't think it really mattered at all. I mean, drafting a quarterback, I didn't think it was gonna be like, oh, they drafted a quarterback, oh, no, Mac Jones is in trouble this year anyways. Like, I didn't think some rookie quarterback was gonna come in and dethrone Mac Jones. I did not. So you're right.

MIKE FLORIO: That was one of the talking points that made its way up and down one of the desks this weekend.



MIKE FLORIO: And I thought--


MIKE FLORIO: --guys, they have Bailey Zappe.


MIKE FLORIO: He played last year.

CHRIS SIMMS: Right. That's right. And, you know, I think-- listen. There's a lot of things. Belichick's tough, you know? Like, we saw in points of Brady's career, he never, like, threw bouquets at Brady.

He was always a little bit like-- I mean, we knew he was a starter. I got that. But he never threw just effusive praise at him. That's not the way he works.

He ain't gonna be that way with a team right now and a quarterback where they didn't get in the playoffs last year. It's gonna be tough on everybody. He's gonna make it miserable. That's part of the, you know, hot poker in the organization, the locker room, everybody's butt here, and going, we got to play better this year.


So he's keeping everybody on edge. He is. Yeah, let alone-- I mean, I think it's fair to question, like we do, like, yeah, how much does Belichick really love Mac Jones? Sure, I don't know, you know?

I think, more or not, Mac Jones was, yeah, Josh McDaniels' pick, that prior offensive staff. That was their guy. Now Belichick stuck with him. I think he likes him, of course.

But, yeah, he's just not gonna throw out the red carpet for him and let him do whatever he wants. He's gonna have to earn it and have a really good spring and training camp and, you know, earn being the guy there in New England.

MIKE FLORIO: Still, the whole "on to Cincinnati" mantra was sparked by Albert Breer daring to ask the question of Bill Belichick, after the blowout loss on a Monday night in 2014 in Kansas City, if Tom Brady was safe in his job as the starter. The same year, the Patriots used a second-round pick on Jimmy--



MIKE FLORIO: --Garoppolo.


MIKE FLORIO: Isn't that funny how nobody ever lost their mind when the Patriots were using second- and third-round picks on quarterbacks? Nobody ever thought--

CHRIS SIMMS: Well, you couldn't tell anybody.

MIKE FLORIO: Well, that's because there was never a vibe.


MIKE FLORIO: There was never a vibe coming from the team that he was in trouble.

CHRIS SIMMS: No, well, you couldn't tell anybody he wasn't playing that good then. I was one of those at that time going, he's not really playing very good, guys. You're just-- they're winning, but he's not doing good, you know?


The prior year and why they drafted Jimmy Garoppolo, the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos, the Broncos just said, we're gonna stop the run game. We're not gonna even worry about Tom Brady. He had people open everywhere. He couldn't hit anybody.

I think that's where they went, damn, maybe it's coming to an end here. So-- but then he got a fire in his ass, and he proved everybody wrong and shoved it where everybody can eat it for a few years. I don't know what I was trying to say there. I didn't want to say anything bad. But yeah.

MIKE FLORIO: It's all right.

CHRIS SIMMS: And he rebounded--


MIKE FLORIO: I'm glad you-- thank you. Yes.

CHRIS SIMMS: --and played awesome after that. We know that.

MIKE FLORIO: And, you know, your comments have an extra level of intrigue for me because you were inside the building during that--


MIKE FLORIO: --during that window.

CHRIS SIMMS: I was, and I'll be here to tell you. I mean, he was-- the year I was there, the year I was-- prior to me there, he was the worst down-the-field thrower in football.

At 10-plus yards or more, he was the worst in the sport. That's all they were worried about the years I was there. Tom, throw the ball down the field. Tom, throw the ball.


Everything was looking for Welker and Edelman, and there was people open everywhere. And he went through a little bit of the politics of the position, whatever, I don't know. But either way, once they lost to Cincinnati, it, like, unleashed him to go, hey, screw everybody. Screw the politics of the position. I'm gonna start throwing lasers all over the field. And he never looked back, and he was the man from that point on again.

MIKE FLORIO: It helps to take a little air out of the footballs.

CHRIS SIMMS: Well, that helped get him jumpstarted.

MIKE FLORIO: I'm kidding.

CHRIS SIMMS: I know that.

MIKE FLORIO: I'm kidding.


CHRIS SIMMS: He didn't need to. In Super Bowl XLIX, they were pumped up, right? He was throwing lasers everywhere.

MIKE FLORIO: Hey. Pete had told me we were veering off course. So I went even farther off course--

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, attaway, screw Pete.

MIKE FLORIO: --reference Deflategate. Let's go ahead. Let's go ahead and take a break.


MIKE FLORIO: But the whole point is--


MIKE FLORIO: The whole point is football is a meritocracy. You've got to bring it. You've got to deliver.

CHRIS SIMMS: That's right.

MIKE FLORIO: And if you don't, they're gonna eventually find somebody else to do it. You don't get a lifetime pass. You don't get-- and Belichick doesn't, either.

Belichick is on the hot seat, low-key, in New England this year. I keep going back to what Robert Kraft, the owner of the team, said in Arizona a month ago. Belichick needs to deliver. The players need to deliver. At some point--


MIKE FLORIO: --big changes are coming to New England if the people there in charge of the football operation and the guys on the field fail to deliver. Oh, by the way, they drafted a kicker and a punter. So they must be feeling pretty good about their positional players-- first time since 2000, the Raiders, when they took Sebastian Janikowski round one, that a team drafted both a punter and a kicker in the same draft.

Do you remember the name of the punter that was drafted the year with Sebastian Janikowski? I think I know who it was.


MIKE FLORIO: I think I know who it was.

CHRIS SIMMS: I'm pretty sure I think I played him in college.

MIKE FLORIO: Shane Lechler. Shane Lechler.

CHRIS SIMMS: Shane Lechler, right, Texas A&M, right.


CHRIS SIMMS: So when I was a freshman, he was at Texas A&M. And, yeah, so I was very aware of the cannon of a right leg he had as far as punting the ball.

MIKE FLORIO: You know, it's pretty sad when you use a first-round pick on a kicker and you draft Shane Lechler that those are the two names that resonate from the 2000 draft, although there may be others. I have to go back--

CHRIS SIMMS: They were great, though.

MIKE FLORIO: During the break, I'm gonna go back and look--


MIKE FLORIO: --just out of curiosity--


MIKE FLORIO: --the 2000 Raiders draft. But that stirred up everything when they went round one with a kicker. All right. Let's take a break. They've stirred up the odds for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year now that the draft is over. We'll look at those when this Monday edition of "PFT Live" continues right after this.