Ex-Patriots RB Damien Harris Rips Bill Belichick for Mac Jones’ Downfall: ‘Stuck in His Ways’

Former New England Patriots running back Damien Harris didn't hold back on Bill Belichick's role in the downfall of quarterback Mac Jones.

It’s one thing when a bunch of reporters and talking heads tell you that Bill Belichick ruined Mac Jones. It’s another thing when someone who actually played on the dysfunctional 2022 New England Patriots tells you the same thing.

During a recent podcast appearance, retired running back Damien Harris called out Belichick and the Patriots for their roles in the downfall of Jones, who now is with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Harris also explained why he wasn’t surprised to see Belichick go unhired this offseason.

Damien Harris Blames Bill Belichick for Mac Jones’ Failures

Appearing on “The Athletic Football Show,” Harris cited Belichick’s stubbornness and decision-making as key factors in Jones going from a promising rookie in 2021 to an unplayable mess in 2023.

Harris, who played in New England for four seasons before signing with the Buffalo Bills in 2023, keyed in on Belichick’s decision to install Matt Patricia and Joe Judge as leaders of the Patriots’ offense in 2022.

“What happened to Mac Jones in New England, was not because of Mac Jones,” Harris said, who retired this offseason. “What happened in New England to Mac Jones was because of the fact you took away an offensive coordinator (Josh McDaniels) who coached him to be a Pro Bowler and almost coached us to winning our division with a rookie quarterback.

“… Then you take Matt Patricia, who’s coached defense his entire life, Joe Judge, who’s been a special teams coach … and then you just throw them in there and say, ‘Hey, coach this kid up. He’s a first-round pick, but as long as you teach him what I say, everything gonna be fine.’ … S–t wasn’t fine.”

Harris added: “Now Mac Jones is in Jacksonville. … The breath of Mac Jones in New England — it came and went. It shouldn’t have [gone] the way that it went.”

Harris, who said Belichick ran a “monopoly” game in New England, pointed toward the ill-fated, Cam Newton-quarterbacked 2020 season as further evidence of Belichick’s hubris.

“The only reason (Jones failed) was because Bill Belichick, being stuck in his ways, was very much so, ‘As long as I am here, as long as I am, along with Robert Kraft, the top dog at this organization, no matter who, no matter where, what position, where they coach, whatever, we will have success,'” Harris said.

“I think that that started kind of started with the Cam Newton situation. … Everybody was like, ‘What the [expletive] is this? Why Cam Newton?’ Bill thought that he could make it work. It didn’t really work.”

Harris, circling back to Jones, added: “I think that everybody can look at what I just said, and ultimately just look at it and watch it for what it was, and kinda say that maybe Bill Belichick did not do right by Mac Jones.”

Obviously, this is just one person’s opinion, and it’s worth pointing out that Harris is close friends with Jones, as the two played together at Alabama. So, he’s not exactly a neutral party.

That said, he’s far from the only current or former Patriots player who feels that way. Many who played on the 2022 team have expressed similar sentiments, either during off-the-record conversations or in explosive interviews.

MORE: Did the Patriots Ruin Mac Jones? ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky Thinks So

In fact, Harris revealed that Patriots players knew the 2022 offense would fail but didn’t know how to communicate their concerns to Belichick.

“I remember OTAs, minicamp, sitting around talking amongst each other being like, ‘Yo, how are we going to tell Bill that this s— ain’t working?’” Harris said. “… I think that it was very obvious for a long time. We knew before our first game, we knew during training camp [that the offense would fail].”

But Harris wasn’t done with his Belichick criticism. He also dove into Belichick’s split with the Patriots in January and failure to secure a new head coaching job.

What Harris Said About Belichick’s Failed Job Search

Throughout the interview, Harris insisted he admired Belichick and loved playing for him. His primary issues were with how the 2022 team was built, coached, and managed.

However, he wasn’t surprised to see teams pass on the opportunity to hire Belichick this offseason.

“I’m not saying that to say anything bad about Bill Belichick, but I just wasn’t surprised because he’s been in one place for so long,” Harris said. “And I think that just at the stage of his career that he’s in, I think that what he was expecting to be handed to him versus what people were willing to give him — in retrospect, I think that maybe they just didn’t align.

“That’s something that I could have seen coming because, you know, Bill was the head coach, Bill was the GM, Bill was damn near the offensive coordinator, damn near the defensive coordinator, damn near the special teams coordinator, damn near this, damn near that. And, you know, if he was going to go coach for another team, it would have probably just been head coach.”

Belichick will spend this season working for Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and making regular appearances on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

KEEP READING: Peyton Manning Talks About Hiring Bill Belichick for ManningCast

Whether he’ll ever coach another NFL game remains to be seen.

However, Belichick reportedly wants to return to a sideline — and has his sights set on the NFC East.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles