FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick wouldn’t say whether Mac Jones will be healthy enough to play against the Green Bay Packers.
But we now know, with certainty, who will step in for the New England Patriots if Jones can’t suit up this Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Belichick on Wednesday confirmed veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer would be the Patriots’ choice at quarterback if Jones’ ankle injury sidelines him. Fourth-round Bailey Zappe would back up Hoyer.
The 36-year-old Hoyer is in his 14th NFL season and has logged three separate stints with the Patriots. Belichick said he knows the Patriots’ offense “better than anybody.”
“I mean, from an overall experience standpoint,” the head coach added. “This year is this year, but Brian has a lot of experience. He’s been in a lot of different systems, seen a lot of football, taken a lot of snaps for us in various capacities. I thought he played well in the preseason. If we need him to go, he’ll be ready to go.”
Hoyer has been Jones’ primary backup for the past two seasons. His last start came in Week 4 of the 2020 campaign — a 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that Hoyer started in place of Cam Newton, who tested positive for COVID-19 days earlier. Hoyer committed two costly mental errors in the red zone in that game and was benched in the second half for third-stringer Jarrett Stidham.
The veteran QB is seeking his first victory as a starter in six years, with his most recent coming on Oct. 2, 2016. He’s winless in his last 11 starts, spanning stints with four different franchises.
Belichick said the Patriots won’t need to alter their game plan much if Hoyer needs to replace Jones, who reportedly is expected to miss multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered late in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“Brian’s got a lot of experience,” Belichick said. “He’s done everything that we would have wanted to do if Mac was able to (play), with I think minimal practice if that was what it was. We’re just taking it day by day. We’re not really doing anything differently.”
Belichick wouldn’t reveal many details about Jones’ recovery timetable — “day by day” was his go-to response — but said the second-year signal-caller has “made a lot of progress” since the injury and did not officially rule him out for this week’s Green Bay matchup.