Given the opportunity to expunge any commotion regarding Mac Jones' status as the New England Patriots' starting quarterback, Bill Belichick offered a standard Belichickian reply that provided no confirmation and added fuel to an offseason-long storyline.
Asked specifically if there was an open competition between Jones and Bailey Zappe for QB1, Belichick said every player is competing.
"Everybody is out here competing, all 90 guys," Belichick said Tuesday, via team transcript. "That's what we're all here for is to go out and compete."
When asked in a follow-up if Jones was therefore not necessarily the Patriots' starter, Belichick replied, "Everybody is out here competing. Everybody is out here competing, that's what everybody is doing."
Following a promising Pro Bowl rookie season, Jones was bitten by the injury bug and offensive chaos in 2022.
As the Patriots never officially named an offensive coordinator, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge were largely tasked with running the offensive show.
Jones went 6-8 as a starter with 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 214 passing yards per game in 14 appearances. Meanwhile, Zappe ignited the fanbase as he went 2-0 as a starter and threw five touchdowns and three interceptions with 195.3 yards per game in four appearances.
Jones has expressed his excitement with a "fresh start" and embraced the learning experiences of last year. He's also embraced the addition of Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator. So, too, has Belichick.
"Bill's great to work with," Belichick said Monday, via team transcript. "A really experienced coach, has a good feel for all aspects of the game. He's been a head coach, and it's different than when it was the last time. He's had that experience handling all types of things besides just being an offensive coordinator. So, yeah, he brings a lot of experience, a lot of confidence. It's great to have Bill."
Just who O'Brien will be calling plays for in the Patriots huddle could well be up for grabs, however.
Belichick didn't confirm or deny any competition for the starting spot, but most certainly stoked the fires of indecision at the position. Nonetheless, he was also complimentary of Jones, who was one of the team's offseason award winners.
"He had a good offseason, really good," Belichick said of Jones. "That's why he was recognized. On and off the field, participation, production, yeah."
The Patriots' quandary at quarterback has carried into August.