FOXBOROUGH — The last time the New England Patriots suffered an embarrassing loss a week before facing the Cincinnati Bengals, Bill Belichick dropped a catchphrase for the ages.
Belichick didn’t provide another “we’re going to Cincinnati” moment Wednesday, his first press conference of the week ahead of Saturday’s game against the Bengals. However, when he answered a question about whether the team would stick with Mack Jones for the final three games of the season, Belichick seemed to harken back to that memorable moment in 2014, but also left the door open to interpretation.
“Yeah, the plan is to try to beat Cincinnati,” Belichick said.
Whether Belichick’s “yes” was a direct answer to the question of whether the team plans to keep Jones for the final three weeks of the season or just a transition is unclear, though it wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots. The coach brushed aside Jones’ status as the starting quarterback. When Jones returned from an ankle injury in October, Belichick never made it clear that Jones would regain the starting job as rookie backup Bailey Zapp made it 2-0.
The plan is to try to beat Cincinnati.
Bill Belichick was asked if he’s going to stick with Mack Jones at QB for the rest of the season 🤔 pic.twitter.com/6LspzlouIs
— NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots coverage (@NBCSPatriots) December 21, 2022
Jones looked like he was turning the page a bit through the Patriots’ first four games, but he took a big step forward Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. He completed just 13-of-31 passes for 112 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions for just a 52.1 passer rating.
With Jones seemingly playing the worst game of his two-year career, Belichick was asked if there was anything the Patriots could do to improve the passing offense — which ranks 23rd in the league.
“Better execution. Better consistency. Better all the way,” Belichick said. “I don’t think it’s one thing.”
Jones set several career records in Sunday’s game. His 41.9 completion percentage, 3.6 yards per attempt and -19.6 completion percentage above expectations (on Next Generation Stats) were the lowest Jones has ever posted in a game.
Belichick was asked if Jones had any mechanical issues and if the team could fix them.
“There’s always things that everybody can improve on every week,” Belichick said. “Just point them out on film, try to fix them and move on. It’s players, coaches, all positions. It’s always like that.”
With the Patriots looking to bounce back after they committed one of the biggest gaffes in NFL history in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, Belichick didn’t feel his team was in the dumps as they were down 7. Three games remain against 7 playoff teams.
“What did I see from them? We met and talked about the game on Monday, we went to Cincinnati and we’re working on Cincinnati today,” Belichick said. “They came in and had breakfast. I saw them having breakfast. I saw them in the meeting room. They ended with their individual meetings. You are on vacation. They go to the bathroom and do a drug test. They came back and are going to the next meeting.”
Was the breakfast good?