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Bill Belichick gives predictable answer when asked about Mac Jones’ status as starting quarterback

Related: Patriots film review: Mac Jones had a rough day against the Raiders

New York Jets (3) Vs. New England Patriots (10) At Gillette Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Looks like we’re doing the thing again, folks.

With him coming off one of the worst performances of his young career, and his team having only a 19 percent chance to make the playoffs right now, Mac Jones’ status as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback is again subject of debate — at least in fan and media circles. It did make its way to the Bill Belichick presser on Wednesday, though.

The final question of his press conference saw the Patriots’ head coach asked about Jones staying in the lineup over the final three weeks of the season. Belichick sidestepping that question did not come as a surprise.

“Yeah, the plan is to try to beat Cincinnati,” he said before leaving the podium.

What the Patriots will do at the most important position on the field is anyone’s guess. However, there has been no indication that Jones would not finish the season as New England’s QB1 even if the team fails to qualify for the playoffs.

That does not mean he has had a good season, though. The sophomore quarterback, who arrived as the 15th overall selection in last year’s draft, has been unable to build on his rookie success.

Playing in a redesigned offense led by the likes of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in lieu of departed long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels, Jones’ numbers took a nosedive compared to 2021. He has completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts, but thrown for only 2,310 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Additionally, he was forced to miss three games because of a high ankle sprain. During his absence, veteran Brian Hoyer briefly took over before being himself replaced by fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe after suffering a concussion. Zappe played competent football within a surprisingly productive offense, and has been mentioned by some fractions within the media and fanbase alike as a potential longer-term replacement.

While his play was encouraging, with the exception of a disappointing Week 7 outing against Chicago, the Patriots do not appear to have any plans to make a change at quarterback. Jones and the offense as a whole have struggled, leading to more calls for Zappe, but for now the team will continue to put its trust in the starter.

Of course, improvements are still necessary. And for Belichick, there is potential to get better virtually everywhere.

“Just better execution, better consistency, better all the way around,” he said on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s any one thing.”

The Patriots will try to get back on track on Saturday against one of the best teams in the AFC: the Cincinnati Bengals will visit Gillette Stadium for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.