Following a similar script as last week, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would not name his team’s starting quarterback for this week when meeting with the media on Wednesday.
“Yeah, I’m not going to make any announcements on our lineup at any position,” Belichick said. “It doesn’t matter what the position is. See how practice goes and see if everybody’s ready to go, hope everybody’s ready to go, see what the injury situation is and then we’ll go with who we think is best Sunday.”
After question marks at the position lingered through Sunday last week, it was ultimately Mac Jones who drew the start in New York. The QB tossed two interceptions in a scoreless first half which led to him finishing the game on the bench for the second straight week.
With Jones out, New England again turned to Bailey Zappe under center. The second-year quarterback did lead the Patriots on their lone scoring drive, but tossed an interception of his own.
“We’ll see how it goes [this week],” Belichick added. “I’m not prepared to make any announcement, so I’m not going to do that.”
Following last week’s loss, several offensive players said they found out the team’s starting quarterback Sunday morning while others claimed they knew throughout the week. The confusion showed on the game field, as New England’s entire offensive operation was disjointed.
“I think everybody’s got their own job to do, and hopefully that’s what they’re focused on, not what everybody else is doing,” Belichick said when asked how the QB decision affects the team. “That’s what we all need to do is focus on what our job is and do the best we can at it. And don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. That would help all of us.”
Beyond Jones and Zappe, the Patriots brought back quarterback Will Grier to the practice squad after waiving him on Saturday. Belichick would not share insight on if Grier could see increased practice reps with the struggles at the top of the depth chart.
“All of the players who are on the practice squad — unless they’ve used all of their practice squad elevations — are eligible to be practice squad elevated,” he said. “Other players could be signed to the roster like we did with Conor [McDermott] last week, who was out of elevations. So, if they’re on the practice squad, they’re eligible and are preparing and should be ready to play. And potentially are ready to play. That includes everybody.”
Last but not least is rookie Malik Cunningham, who served as Jones’ primary backup in Week 6 against the Raiders. The UDFA said last week he has not taken regular practice reps at quarterback since that game, as offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien noted Tuesday that Cunningham remains playing “mostly at receiver.”
“He’s been playing receiver all year, and he’s also played some at quarterback,” Belichick added. “It depends a little bit on the offense that we’re seeing. If we’re seeing offenses that run plays that he’s very good at running — teams like Philadelphia, the first Miami game — then he gets, I mean, they’re practice squad reps, but they’re also reps on things that he does.
“He’s kind of a unique player. Things aren’t straight-line with him. He’s different than probably every other player we have on the team, so he’s handled differently.”