Let’s start by saying that it would be injudicious to second-guess Bill Belichick’s coaching methods. The longtime Patriots head coach has more championships (six) and Super Bowl appearances (nine) than any HC in league history.
Belichick is also just 48 wins shy of breaking Don Shula’s long-standing record as the all-time winningest coach in NFL history. The resume speaks for itself, and it’s still being written.
However, if there’s one Belichick tactic we can’t wrap our heads around, it’s that he makes incoming rookies earn their jersey numbers.
When it comes to Mac Jones, the rookie out of Alabama has been sporting No. 50, unusual for any QB, throughout training camp. Hope you didn’t buy that jersey, though.
With the Patriots set to kick off their preseason slate on Thursday night, fans have been wondering whether Jones’ new number would be revealed moments before kickoff or hours beforehand. With Belichick calling the shots, anything seemed possible.
However, the speculation ended on Thursday afternoon. A little less than seven hours before kickoff, the Patriots assigned Jones the No. 10 jersey.
The Patriots finally revealed Mac Jones’ jersey number for 2021.
Better late than never, right? This is actually pretty significant news for Jones, as he was able to keep the number he repped with great success at Alabama.
You might be wondering why Jones had been forced to wear the No. 50, which is more suited for a linebacker, at training camp. Belichick and Co. actually assign that jersey to the first rookie selected in the draft each year. The second rookie drafted sports No. 51, and so on.
However, it’s important to know the Nos. 56 and 57 are untouchable. The former is retired in honor of Andre Tippett, while the latter is reserved in honor of Steve Nelson.
Since the preseason has arrived, players must wear one of the numbers that falls within the designated threshold for their position. In Jones’ case, he had Nos. 1-19 to choose from.
On the surface, it makes sense why Belichick operates this way. Any rookie, regardless of draft position or praise garnered in college, should earn his spot — and, in the Patriots’ case, jersey number — on the roster. It’s bizarre, but who are we to question Belichick?
With that wait officially over, Patriots fans can now resort to overthinking about how Jones will fare in his preseason debut. While one game won’t tell the whole story of what role the No. 15 overall pick will play as a rookie, he clearly has a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Let’s hope being in his familiar No. 10 jersey helps get his mind right.