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Patriots reportedly prepare Bailey Zappe, not Mac Jones, to start against Chargers

New England is in the midst of a quarterback change.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his struggles, the New England Patriots held onto Mac Jones as their starting quarterback through the first 11 games of the 2023 season. Heading into the 12th, however, it looks like a change is being made.

The team is preparing backup Bailey Zappe to make the start against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, demoting Jones to a backup role. A brief peak at Wednesday’s practice already suggested such a move, with a follow-up report by Jeff Howe of The Athletic confirming the team’s intentions.

The change in quarterback is the result of Jones’ repeated disappointing performances. Already coming off an underwhelming sophomore campaign, the former first-round draft pick completed 64.9 percent of his pass attempts (224 of 345) for 2,120 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, as well as two lost fumbles

The high volume of turnovers — including four that were returned for touchdown — was a main catalyst behind the Patriots’ change at quarterback. Now, second-year passer Zappe is getting an opportunity to show what he can do.

While Zappe did earn wins in both of his career starts so far, both in 2022, he has also not looked particularly good this season. Not only was he briefly released ahead of roster cutdowns before returning via the practice squad, he also has looked no better than Jones in four stand-in performances after re-joining the 54-man team.

In total, the former fourth-round draft pick has gone 19-of-39 (48.7%) for 158 yards with a pair of interceptions. And yet, the Patriots are in the process of handing him the keys to their offense.

At 2-9 and with the second-worst scoring unit in football, the only way is up.

The Patriots’ home game against the Chargers will be kicked off at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 3.