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Patriots playing both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe was all part of the ‘plan’

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 33-14 loss to Bears

Mac Jones made his return to action Monday night after missing the last three games with a high ankle sprain, but it did not last long. After just three series — which concluded in an interception and 10-0 deficit — Jones retreated to the bench while Bailey Zappe took over.

According to quarterback Mac Jones and head coach Bill Belichick, it was all part of the plan.

“I told the quarterbacks that we were going to play both of them,” Bill Belichick explained postgame. “And that’s what we did.”

“I think we had a good plan, as always, just to go throughout the week and figure out what we want to do for the game,” Jones later said. “Coach Belichick was very good about communication and felt like I was good to play, and we had a good plan there, and obviously didn’t play well enough there.”

In Jones’ three series, he completed just three of his six passes for 13 yards and the interception. He looked out of sorts in his return, appearing to miss several receivers downfield and forcing the bad interception. While it may have seemed like a benching, Belichick noted it was not.

“That’s not what it was, but you can write whatever you want to write,” he said. “That’s not what it was.”

Jones, aswell, noted he was aware that he was going to be taken out.

“Just part of the plan,” the quarterback said. “I think Coach Belichick obviously did a really, really good job explaining it to me. I knew what the plan was, and the timing is the timing; but we were on the same page, and there’s no hard feelings or anything. I wish I played better while I was in there, but hopefully I’ll have a chance to do that in practice and kind of earn that back and then apply it in the game.”

Within Jones’ departure, Belichick went on to add his medical status played a role in the plan to split time at the quarterback position, but it had no impact on when the team pulled Jones. And while Jones did not see the field again after his three series, he likely would have if the game was still competitive.

“He would have gone back in,” Belichick said of Jones. “The score got out of hand. I didn’t think that was the right thing to do.”

With Jones out of the game, it was Zappe the rest of the way for New England. Zappe deferred questions to Belichick about the quarterback plan afterwards, but noted he prepared the same way he has been the last few weeks.

“I prepare like I have every other week, and if that decision was made for me to go in, then I was going to go out there and do the best for my team,” Zappe explained.

As for when he found out that Jones would be starting?

“About the same time y’all did,” Zappe said.

After scoring two quick touchdowns on the rookie’s first two possessions to take a 14-10 lead, that was all the scoring New England’s offense did that night. The rookie finished 14-of-22 for 185 yards with a score and two interceptions.

“Just got to get better. Can’t fall off like I did. I’ve got to make some throws. I’ve got to make better decisions on certain things,” Zappe said. “My job was to go in there and get the ball to my playmakers. I need to do a better job of that going into next week.”

The plan at quarterback was a curious one for the Patriots Monday night. While the quarterbacks and head coach seemed to be on the same page, several players in the Patriots’ locker room were unaware that both quarterbacks would be seeing the field.

As for who will be under center next week as the Patriots take on the New York Jets, Belichick declined to comment. It seems like either Jones or Zappe could be fair game.

“I guess when Sunday comes, we’ll know,” Jones said.