Bill Belichick declines to answer whether Mac Jones is 'dirty' player

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Belichick declines to answer whether Mac Jones is 'dirty' player originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Bill Belichick is staying out of the Mac Jones "dirty player" discourse that has dominated headlines since last Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The NFL fined Jones earlier this week for his low block on Bengals cornerback Eli Apple, who called out the New England Patriots quarterback for what he considered a dirty play. Multiple NFL players and analysts agreed with Apple and went as far as to label Jones a dirty player due to it not being his first controversial incident.

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On Friday, Belichick was asked to share his take on whether Jones is a dirty player.

"Yeah, I'm not going to sit up here and comment on that," Belichick said during his press conference. "I mean, we can go through the rest of the roster and ask the same questions, right? About different things about players and all that. So I'm not going to get into any of that.

"Right now, my focus is on the Miami Dolphins. It's not on some other game, some other play, some other year, what somebody else said or didn't say. Like, we're trying to get ready for the Dolphins. Honestly, I don't even think about those things."

A typical Belichickian answer, but still noteworthy that the longtime Patriots head coach didn't come to his QB's defense. As a follow-up, he was asked whether he runs the risk of alienating Jones by not answering the question directly.

"I have a good relationship with all the players," Belichick said. "I talk to all the players. I talk to the team every day. I talk to the players individually on an as-needed basis or anything that's relevant. So I feel comfortable in my relationship with every player, every coach, every staff member if that's what you're asking."

In addition to the block on Apple, Jones has been under scrutiny for grabbing and twisting the ankle of Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burns last season. He also kicked Chicago Bears defensive back Jaquan Brisker in the groin during a slide earlier this year, but was not disciplined for the play.

Jones addressed the recent criticisms of his play on Wednesday.

"Everybody has an opinion," he said. "And the biggest thing for me is focusing on being the best teammate I can be, and earning the respect of the people in this building and the people I care about.

"Obviously, I have respect for everybody around the league. It takes a lot to get to this league. There’s really good players out there, and we’re all playing hard and trying to win. At the end of the day, you have to keep that in mind. It’s a game and you want to just have fun, enjoy it and compete against each other. That’s something that I’ve always done and I know my teammates appreciate that about me."

It's clear the Patriots are ignoring the noise heading into a crucial Week 17 matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins. It's a game they must win to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET Sunday at Gillette Stadium.