Bill Belichick has been mum on Mack Jones’ status this week
Bill Belichick has been vague about the New England Patriots’ plans at starting quarterback this week. Mac Jones sustained a high-ankle sprain in Week 3. That’s an injury that typically takes a few weeks to recover from. Jones looked to be in extreme pain when he left near the end of the team’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Belichick offered a comment early this week that Brian Hoyer would play if Jones can’t play in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers.
According to a report by Ian Rapoport, Jones has been declared out of Sunday’s game.
The #Patriots officially list QB Mac Jones as out for Sunday. Brian Hoyer starts.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 30, 2022
But the timing of the decision to rule Jones out was telling.
Per Myles Simmons of NBC Sports, Belichick did not declare Jones out of Sunday’s game early Friday, and Jones was telling teammates he could still play:
“I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’ve got a magic wand or crystal ball and I know exactly what’s going to happen,” Belichick said. “Nobody knows. I don’t know. He doesn’t know. Doctors don’t know. Take it as it comes and see what happens.
“It’s hard to tell until you actually get out there and perform at a level that’s comparable to what a professional football player has to do. … Bones are bones. But guys that are in training, guys that are well conditioned that are healthy, come back quicker than others of us, let’s call it.”
The situation has apparently been fluid all week. Jones was initially reported to have a “pretty severe” high-ankle sprain, which would presumably keep him out for multiple weeks. But Jones has reportedly been telling teammates that he could still play.
Jones was present at the Patriots practice Friday
Per a report by Mike Reiss of ESPN, Jones was present at the Patriots practice Friday.
Mac Jones here for the start of practice. pic.twitter.com/ZeL8qtWQuQ— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 30, 2022
The general consensus outside of Belichick and Jones was that he couldn’t play against the Packers in Week 4. It would have been an odd decision to put Jones out with a bad ankle against a defense that leads the NFL in pressure this season. Something else could be going on.
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Belichick has always been secretive about his game plans. Most NFL coaches believe the more secrets a team keeps, the more advantages their team will have in a game. Having a picture and a report publicly on Friday might keep the Packers coaching staff guessing what quarterback they need to prepare for Sunday. It also helps with Belichick not offering the true status of Jones before the Packers practice Friday. The Packers’ defensive coaching staff would have to prepare for both Hoyer and Jones on Friday.
Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel did something similar in practice this week. McDaniel correctly assumed the Dolphins were being watched during their walkthrough at the University of Cincinnati. McDaniels improvised, knowing any leaked footage would immediately be gorged by the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff. He ran illegal plays with 12 players to keep anyone watching guessing what the real play was supposed to be.
Reports of Jones’ presence at practice were sure to keep questions of the quarterbacks’ availability on the top of Packers’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s mind Friday. That’s the art of good preparation by a good head coach in the NFL.