The New England Patriots are coming off a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10. It was a bad game for the offense, but one that will be analyzed for two weeks as the team heads into its Week 11 bye.
The loss was highlighted by an argument on the sideline between Mac Jones and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, and Jones got benched for Bailey Zappe with the game on the line. Should the team look at starting Zappe in Week 12 against the New York Giants?
Jones has led the Patriots to a 2-8 record. He has 2,031 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. You can try to blame Jones’ struggles on the lack of a dominant wide receiver, but on Sunday, he wildly underthrew a wide-open receiver in the redzone, which is likely what led to his getting benched. Jones had 170 yards and an interception at that point.
Zappe came in after the two-minute warning. The Patriots were down four points and had a chance to win the game with a touchdown. This was a huge decision from head coach Bill Belichick that shows a lack of confidence in Jones. Zappe proceeded to start 3-of-6 passing for 25 yards. Then, for some reason, the offense went with a fake spike that didn’t fool the defense. Zappe decided to loft a ball into triple coverage that was picked off, and the game was over.
With the argument between Jones and O’Brien and the benching of Jones late in the game, it seems like his days as the starter in New England are numbered at best. Going into the bye week, the Patriots would have plenty of opportunity to get Zappe reps with the first team, and he could start in Week 12. He has played in seven career games and has 885 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
The question becomes, what do you do if you are the Patriots? They currently hold the No. 3 spot in the 2024 NFL Draft. New England’s history of winning doesn’t suggest they are a team to tank, but this may be the time. The Arizona Cardinals are getting back Kyler Murray and James Conner and could win a few games down the stretch. The Patriots could easily find themselves in the running for a top two draft choice, putting them in play for one of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class. For now, it seems like New England should use the remainder of this season to determine which of their current quarterbacks serves them better as a backup for the future. They have seen plenty of Jones, and I think Zappe should be starting in Week 12.