Jesus wept, is this incredible. And I mean that in the true sense of the word. As in, it's hard to believe it's happening. And were it any other person running any other franchise in any other sport, it could never happen. But this is what makes this coach and this team not just unique, but an endless source of fascination.
Whether you're shocked by the confusion surrounding the simple matter of which young quarterback is at the top of the Patriots depth chart or all in on your loyalty to Belichick, you have to take a step back and appreciate the power of the Category 5 shitstorm he has unleashed. This is a level of chaos that would cause Ian Malcolm to lay back and admire in awe:
And it would take a Chaotician with the power to outsmart a pack of velociraptors to even begin to come up with a formula to explain what's happening. Since I can't even stop raccoons from getting at my bird feeder, I won't even try.
However, I have thoughts. One, Belichick told WEEI everyone on a need-to-know basis understood the plan to alternate Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe going into Monday. "I talked to the quarterbacks. I talked to the leaders of the team. Everybody knew what the plan was. I mean, not every single person, obviously. I wouldn't talk to every person about another player's role in the game. They all have their jobs to do. There was no lack of communication."
Which Jones confirmed. "Coach Belichick obviously did a really, really good job explaining it to me," he said. "And I knew what the plan was, and the timing is the timing. We were on the same page. There's no hard feelings."
Even if your default setting is, "Well what else is he gonna say?", this is what we have to work with. If you've got more information than a public pronouncement by the guy most affected by the decision, let's hear it. If you want to claim Jones is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, I'll all ears. It'll make a hell of a blog.
Next, there's one thing we can all assume. To a moral certainty, we can confirm that Belichick is not flying blind. He's not making this up as he goes. We know this to be true because he's never not had a plan for anything in his entire career. He didn't suddenly wake up one day at the age of 70 and tied for second on the all time wins list and lose the cognitive ability to make important depth chart decisions. He didn't stop understanding how to manage his personnel. If you want to argue some variation of "The game has passed him by" or "He's lost the locker room," we've been hearing that song so often for so long I can do the karaoke version of it without looking at the lyrics screen. By this point, it's my "American Pie." Only longer. So feel free to add another verse.
As a reminder, this feels so much like Week 4 of 2014 that it's almost eerie. They got blown out on Monday Night Football in a game in which they did nothing right. Tom Brady threw two interceptions and people were openly wondering if he was going to be replaced with Jimmy Garoppolo. In fact, talk radio was lousy with Tonys from Saugus and Franks from the car demanding exactly that. And Belichick responded to the madness of the moment with answers that seemed like he was utterly not in command of the situation. Until he was. Then it became a mantra. Then eventually a catch phrase that still gets used to this day:
"We're onto Cincinnati."
Which has an echo in:
"We'll see how it goes."
Love it or hate it, you have to respect the audacity of it.
What is the Master Plan here then? You're better off asking Jeff Goldblum. Or the raccoon that's stuffed full of my birdseed. Like I said yesterday, I have devout faith in Belichick.
But he works in mysterious ways. Always has. What I can tell you is that there is a Master Plan. And when it starts to pay off, remember that my faith might have been tested, but it was never shaken. Might have bent, but we ain't breakin'.
The cliche' is to say Belichick is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. One I've never, ever used. Not even when I was just starting out writing and probably 45% hackier than I am now. I see this more as that Star Trek: TOS when it looked like the Enterprise was in a no win situation, completely outclassed by another vessel and appeared to be doomed. So Spock said, "It appears to be checkmate, Captain." To which Kirk replied, "Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker." And proceeded to bluff his way out of it.
What we're seeing is not bluffing. But a poker face. A card shark keeping his cards close to his chest. Keeping the rest of the table guessing. And prepared to play the best hand at exactly the right time. You'd have to be an imbecile to bet against him. But people have done it before. My money is still on him. And when he takes home the pot, the "WE'LL SEE HOW IT GOES" t-shirts will be available at the Barstool Store.