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The case for starting Bailey Zappe against the Bears on Monday night

Related: Report: Patriots QB Mac Jones took ‘bulk of first-team reps’ in Saturday’s practice

New England Patriots v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

There is no quarterback controversy in New England — Mac Jones is the starter when healthy — but the Patriots fan base still seems torn on who should lead the team’s offense into the upcoming Monday night game against the Chicago Bears. Should Jones make his comeback from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3, or should Bailey Zappe stay in the lineup for another week?

The decision to start Jones obviously needs to be based on his medical evaluation, something Bill Belichick pointed out last week.

“Until the player is medically cleared to play then there’s no coaching decision involved,” the Patriots’ head coach said. “Once the player has been medically cleared to play then I would say in consolation with the player and the medical staff, what is the player being asked to do?”

However, there is more to Jones playing than just the clearance from the medical staff. This, in turn, is why sticking with Zappe for one more game might make sense.

The game against the Bears will be played on a Monday, which means that it will be followed by a short week. If Jones starts, the turnaround until Week 8 might be an issue; the ankle might need extra time to recover after Jones’ first game action in a month. If he’s not able to fully recover, then he would going into the New York Jets game next weekend at a disadvantage, which might open him up to a higher chance of re-injury.

The other thing to consider is which of the two games matter more from a Patriots perspective. Obviously, the Patriots will not necessarily win the Bears game regardless of who their quarterback is, but the fact is a contest against an NFC opponent does not matter quite as much in the grand scheme of things as one versus a division rival such as the Jets.

Giving yourself a lesser chance of winning the 2-4 Bears game to potentially give yourself a greater chance of beating the 4-2 Jets seems like a good tradeoff.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the Patriots have a decision looming about their quarterback position.

As can be seen, that decision goes a lot deeper than just who gives the team the best chance to win on Monday night. The team also has to consider how it will impact its longer-term outlook, starting with an important divisional game the next weekend. As a result of all of that, starting Bailey Zappe on Monday might be a better decision for the team — even with Jones reportedly taking the “bulk of first-team reps” in practice on Saturday.

Like they always do, however, the Patriots and Bill Belichick will make the best decision they feel is best for the football team, regardless of what anyone else (even me!) thinks about it.