The New England Patriots entered their Week 12 game with plenty of question marks at the quarterback position. They now leave New York with even more.
After not naming a starting quarterback before the game, it was Mac Jones who received the start for the Patriots. It didn’t last long, as Jones was removed from the game at halftime after throwing two more poor interceptions.
“I understood,” Jones said after the game. “I wasn’t moving the ball, I wasn’t scoring points. So, I understand why that happened.”
With Bailey Zappe then entering the game to start the second half, things didn’t get much better. While Zappe did lead New England on their lone touchdown drive, he wasn’t asked to do much as he finished the drive with a negative average depth of target.
Zappe then struggled when asked to push the ball downfield, highlighted by a poor interception of his own which helped lead to the Giants’ go-ahead field goal.
“That’s just bad by me,” Zappe said of the play. “He made a great play. He did a great job, he sniped the cross — I have to see that. That’s totally on me. I had Tyquan Thornton, he was wide open in the flat.”
The quarterback position was in the spotlight throughout the week as Bill Belichick did not publicly name a starter. The head coach revealed postgame that he believed “both guys deserved to play” and that he informed the team Jones would start before the team departed for New York.
Beforehand, however, it was reported Jones and Zappe split practice reps 50-50 throughout the week. Neither quarterback, nor coach, would share how the reps were divided.
“Whatever reps I get in practice just needs to carry over to the field,” Jones said. “I’m definitely prepared, I just haven’t been putting a good product on the field.”
“I don’t keep tracks of how many reps I get,” Zappe added. “However many I get I try to take advantage of it.”
With Jones’ continued poor play resulting in his fourth benching of the season, the likely move will be to turn to keys over to Zappe for New England’s next game against the Los Angeles Chargers. If that is the case, Zappe will bank of his past experience as a starter to try and put a better performance of his own on the field.
“If I start,” he said, “I’m going to do everything I can — like I have the past times I’ve started — to go out there and win.”
Regardless of who draws the start next week, however, it is clear that the Patriots have issues at the worst possible position to have them. Jones himself perfectly summed up the team’s conundrum after the 10-7 loss to the Giants.
“If the quarterback doesn’t play well, you’ve got no chance.”