Following their blowout loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, Bill Belichick promised a “starting over” process for his New England Patriots. What that would entail was, and still remains, anybody’s guess outside Gillette Stadium, but it does not include a change at quarterback just yet.
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien already said on Tuesday that he would anticipate Mac Jones starting the upcoming game against the Las Vegas Raiders. On Wednesday morning, Belichick confirmed as much.
“Yeah, we’re not making any changes,” the Patriots’ head coach said.
For the time being, Belichick and company will be sticking with Jones as their starting quarterback. Depending on your perspective, this either can be interpreted as a show of trust or a reflection of a lack of alternatives.
Jones, after all, started his third season in the NFL reasonably well. While the Patriots began the year 1-2, he was arguably their best player on the offensive side of the ball and looked to be finding his groove again coming off a disappointing 2022 campaign.
Since then, however, things have gone steeply downhill for the former first-round draft pick. Over the last two games — a 38-3 loss versus the Dallas Cowboys and a 34-0 loss to the aforementioned Saints — Jones has completed only 24 of 43 pass attempts for 260 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. He additionally was credited with two lost fumbles.
Three of Jones’ takeaways were directly returned for touchdowns and played a major role in New England getting blown out twice in the last two weeks. The 25-year-old was pulled from both games, with second-stringer Bailey Zappe coming in late each time.
Zappe, however, did also not provide much of a spark. He continues to look like the player the Patriots decided to release ahead of roster cutdown day, only to bring him back via the practice squad the following day.
In his limited snaps against the Cowboys and Saints, Zappe went 7-of-18 for 79 yards. His performance was not enough to seriously challenge Jones so far.
As a consequence, the Patriots will continue rolling along with their current setup. Jones is QB1, backed up by Zappe and third option Will Grier.
“[Mac would] be the first to tell you that there’s things that he has to do better,” Bill O’Brien told reporters on Tuesday. “Whether it’s obviously taking care of the ball or maybe read the route better or get us into a better play or whatever it is.
“But it’s a collective effort. That’s why it’s not a one-on-one sport. It’s an 11-man sport. You’re trying to get 11 guys on the same page to do the right thing on every play and right now we’re not near doing that.”
The Patriots will take on the Raiders on Sunday at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.