Michael Lombardi was a longtime NFL executive, turned analyst. He worked for several successful franchises during his front office career. Most recently as an assistant/advisor with the New England Patriots from 2014 to 2015. While Lombardi once helped elevate the Patriots to a Super Bowl championship, this week he took them down a notch. Specifically, Lombardi went after New England quarterback, Mac Jones.
On the The GM Shuffle podcast, which Lombardi co-hosts with Femi Abebefe, neither Mac Jones nor the New England Patriots were even the topic of conversation. Yet somehow when the smoke cleared, Mac Jones had taken a stray shot from a man his head coach holds in high regard.
The conversation of the episode was about the poor performance of another 2021 NFL Draft pick, Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears. Lombardi was arguing that people constantly made excuses for Field’s poor play. He said it is important that people be honest when making evaluations, including admitting when they might have been wrong. This was when Mac Jones got involved.
“Like I’m sitting there watching Mac Jones and I’m saying maybe he’s not as good as (I think) he is, cause Mac Jones doesn’t make any plays. I’m saying that. You’ve got to be honest about the evaluation.”
The New England Patriots are 0-2 to start the season, but the play of Mac Jones not a main reason. Playing against quality opponents, Jones has been without a healthy offensive line or receiving corps so far this season. Perhaps Lombardi views these as excuses, though they appear to be obvious reasons.
Lombardi’s opinions carry some weight in Foxboro. Bill Belichick once called him, “one of the smartest people I’ve worked with. He was huge asset to me.” Due to Lombardi’s strong relationship with Belichick, some speculate Lombardi said what he did as a “mouthpiece” for his former boss. In reality, Lombardi reached for an example of somebody he changed his opinion of. He grabbed Mac Jones.
It’s hyperbole to state Mac Jones “doesn’t make any plays” but clearly he’s not making enough to win just yet. That doesn’t make Mac Jones to blame for New England’s 0-2 start, but it. doesn’t make Lombardi’s comment incorrect either. With such a thin margin for error on the Patriots this season, it is imperative that Jones plays nearly perfect. He has made plays, but he needs to make more big plays if the Patriots are going to contend. With a healthier offensive line and arsenal of weapons (i.e. fewer excuses) Belichick will be looking for Jones to do just that.
Good news for anyone upset by Michael Lombardi’s analysis of the New England Patriots QB: he has proven he’s open to changing his mind on players. It is easy to argue Mac Jones’ play has been very good in 2023. This is especially true given the lack of help he’s gotten from other aspects of the Patriots offense. But if Jones really wants to to silence Lombardi, and his other critics, it’s time to make plays and win games.