Things went a little sideways for the New England Patriots in 2022.
After going 10-7 and reaching the postseason with rookie quarterback Mac Jones and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2021, the Patriots stumbled to an 8-9 record this season to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. The offense was the primary culprit for their struggles, as Matt Patricia's promotion to offensive play-caller caused widespread dysfunction that led to Jones regressing to the NFL's 28th-ranked quarterback according to ESPN's QBR metric.
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Much of that dysfunction was detailed in a recent article by the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan and Karen Guregian, as well as throughout the season by our Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry. But NBC Sports' Chris Simms shared more intel Tuesday as it related to Jones allegedly getting on Bill Belichick's bad side by seeking help "outside the family" during the season.
"There was frustration (on Jones' part), for sure. There was a little bit of, 'Wait, what are we doing? What's going on?'" Simms said Tuesday during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" from Super Bowl Radio Row in Glendale, Ariz.
"I do think he was a little bit in the proverbial 'doghouse' with Belichick a little bit, because I was told that he was calling around and trying to ask, 'Hey, we need some ideas for the offense.' And word got back to Bill and that was why he was in the doghouse a little bit."
Simms added that he heard Jones reached out to people at his alma mater, Alabama, (among others) for potential offensive ideas. And while it's unclear whether Jones made contact with then-Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, the fact that Jones would seek help outside the organization reflected his lack of faith in the Patriots' coaching staff.
"I think he's also going, 'Damn, I ran some of these plays my senior in high school. Like, are we going to have a few more creative plays involved in this thing?'" Simms added of Jones.
In many ways, Jones had good reason to criticize the Patriots' offense, which was equal parts predictable and disjointed for large portions of the season. It appears Belichick may not have liked the way Jones handled his frustration, but he at least he realized the error in his ways by hiring O'Brien as New England's offensive coordinator in 2023.
O'Brien will have his work cut out for him to revamp the Patriots' offense -- and Step 1 will be getting on the same page as Jones, who reportedly (and understandably) is thrilled to work with his new boss.