Following the New England Patriots’ 33-14 home loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night, head coach Bill Belichick refused to make a determination on the Pats’ starting quarterback moving forward.
Belichick was asked if he planned to start 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones or rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe on Sunday against the New York Jets, and he made no commitments, saying, “We just finished the game.”
Belichick also told The Greg Hill Show on WWEI 93.7 that he planned to play both Jones and Zappe regardless of the game’s outcome.
Jones got the start Monday after missing the previous three games with a high ankle sprain, but after he struggled in three series of action, Belichick replaced him with Zappe and stuck with the rookie the rest of the way.
The Patriots went three-and-out twice under Jones, and he also threw an interception. He finished the game with 13 yards, no touchdowns and a pick on 3-of-6 passing, plus three carries for 24 yards.
Zappe gave the Pats an immediate spark, as he led two touchdown drives to put New England ahead 14-10 after entering the game when the Patriots trailed 10-0.
Included in that was a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, which awakened a Patriots crowd that had been chanting for Zappe for much of the game.
Zappe wasn’t great after the Patriots took the lead, though, as the Bears reeled off 23 unanswered points. Overall, he completed 14 of 22 passing attempts for 185 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Even so, Zappe has been the Patriots’ best quarterback this season since taking over for the injured Brian Hoyer in Week 4.
In relief, Zappe nearly led the Patriots to a come-from-behind win over the Green Bay Packers that week before they fell in overtime. Then he started the next two games and led New England to a 29-0 shutout of the Detroit Lions and a 38-15 win against the Cleveland Browns.
Zappe is 2-0 as a starter, and he has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in four games.
Meanwhile, Jones is 1-3 as a starter and has completed 65.0 percent of his attempts for 799 yards, two touchdowns and six picks.
His performance has been a far cry from what he did as a rookie when he threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions en route to earning a Pro Bowl nod and leading the Patriots to a 10-7 record and a playoff berth.
At 3-4, the Patriots look like the worst team in the AFC East. Regardless of who starts at quarterback next week, they are in grave danger of falling to an improved Jets team that has not enjoyed much success against New England over the past two decades.