It was obvious the moment New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned Lamar Jackson’s contract that the NFL world would pick it up and see how far they could run with it.
“Without a doubt,” said Belichick at a recent media conference, when asked if Jackson answered questions on his ability to play from the pocket. “It’s the type of the player, the MVP type of candidate. I think he’s more than answered them. But, we’ll see what his contract is, that will answer them.”
Buy Patriots Tickets
We’re used to Belichick lathering opponents up with more butter than a tomahawk steak fresh off the grill, before devouring it and moving on to the next meal to serve as fodder for the insatiable appetite of the greatest coach in NFL history.
Surely, those comments serve only to fatten Jackson up for the Patriots defense to feast on Sunday.
Or, maybe—just maybe—there’s something more to Belichick’s sudden interest in Jackson’s contract. To be fair, it really was an odd thing to say for a coach that rarely delves into such topics openly.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 22, 2022
That isn’t to suggest Mac Jones is a worse quarterback than Jackson or vice versa. We can save that pitchfork argument for another day.
But a real case could be made that Jackson could be the better quarterback right now for a Patriots offense struggling to create explosive plays. As long as Belichick is the de facto general manager, the Patriots will probably never have a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Jones isn’t going to walk onto the field and see anywhere near the bevy of offensive firepower he had at the University of Alabama—at least not in New England.
Think of all of the years Patriots fans salivating over the possibility of pairing legendary quarterback Tom Brady with an elite receiver on the outside. He played with Randy Moss for one full year and shattered NFL records. But then it was back to a good receiving corps with a top-shelf slot receiver and a great tight end.
The difference with Brady being under center is the fact that he’s the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Jones is really good at this juncture of his career, and with the right coach and system, he could raise that bar even further.
But is this new offensive identity for the Patriots really what’s best for Jones? This is not the Patriots offense of the past where Brady was slinging throws to players no one had ever heard of.
It’s a run-first offense that’s going to focus in on the short-passing game and limiting turnovers. That’s polar opposite of Jones heaving up deep throws to DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle for a championship-winning Alabama team that also had Najee Harris coming out of the backfield.
Jackson is an anomaly due to the fact that he’s his own home run threat. He’s a whole other headache defenses have to account for because of his ability to wreck games with his legs. His style of play fits like a glove to what Belichick wants to do offensively.
LAMAR JACKSON 79-YARD TD 🔥
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 18, 2022
Meanwhile, Jones is more similar to Brady, who left for greener pastures and more receiving talent in Tampa Bay. Imagine how drastically different Jones’ game might look if he was the one throwing to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones.
But instead, he’s stuck in an offense with Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker. That isn’t exactly a situation that anyone would dub as purgatory for the 24-year-old quarterback. The Patriots made it to the playoffs last year in Jones’ rookie season after missing the postseason in 2020.
There’s always hope as long as Belichick is barking instructions from the sidelines.
The whole Jackson contract talk is most likely much ado about nothing. Of course, that won’t stop the masses from talking and speculating, especially if the Patriots continue to struggle this season. But there are far too many hurdles to consider that chatter as anything more than a pipe dream discussion.
Baltimore’s leading man under center is more steak than he is future teammate for the Patriots—for now.