The New England Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium Monday following their bye week, where determining who the starting quarterback will be moving forward will be one of the first things on their to-do list.
According to offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, that decision will be made by head coach Bill Belichick.
“For me, I basically get everybody ready to play,” O’Brien responded when asked if Mac Jones will be the team’s starter. “At the end of the day, Bill [Belichick] will make that decision at some point and we’ll go from there.”
New England held one practice session last Wednesday before breaking for the bye, where Jones was seen still taking first-unit reps. O’Brien noted that backups Bailey Zappe and Will Grier did rotate in, however, and that this week of practice will be key to determining who’s under center next Sunday against the New York Giants.
“Mac took the first-team reps. Bailey rotated in there. Will Grier rotated in there,” O’Brien said. “One of the reasons I really enjoy coaching here is you have to earn it on the practice field. You have to strive for perfection on the practice field and then hopefully that leads to good execution in the games. Right now, we haven’t had consistent enough execution in the games.
“So, we’ll see what happens down the road here. We have to have good practices, and then we can all determine, at every position, who should play the most.”
The quarterback position is again in the headlines as Jones was benched in New England’s 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It came after another bad interception in which he severely under threw an open Mike Gesicki.
Despite Jones’ season-long struggles and poor mechanics, his offensive coordinator still believes in him.
“Everything is fixable,” O’Brien explained. “I think at times, Mac has played really well. I also think it’s really important to point out there are 10 other guys on the field. Everybody has to play better. Then there’s coaches on the sideline; we all have to coach better. That’s the truth.
“I don’t believe in yips or anything like that. Mac has played well. Mac will play well again.”
The offensive coordinator was seen passionately yelling at Jones on the TV broadcast during the loss to Indianapolis. It came on a third-down play in which Jones appeared to miss several open receivers before nearly throwing an ill-advised interception.
“I think that was just coaching in the moment. That’s kind of the way I coach,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes the way to get a point across is to be very demanding and very intense about it. That’s who I am. That’s how I’ve always coached.
“Sometimes that rubs certain players the wrong way. Sometimes players want that. I don’t want to speak for Mac, but I think Mac wants to be coached and wants to be told, ‘Look, this can be better.’”