Bill Belichick Refuses To Name Starter After Both Patriots QBs Struggle

The mystery continues


Oct 25, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots obviously believe Mac Jones is healthy enough to play, and virtually all reporting indicates there is no quarterback competition/controversy in New England.

Yet, Bill Belichick refused to name a starter after Monday night’s disastrous 33-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Not like either of his quarterbacks took the job and ran with it. Jones went 3-of-6 with an interception before getting replaced by Bailey Zappe, who sent Gillette Stadium into a frenzy during the second quarter but cratered while throwing two picks in the second half. Still, it’s easier to explain away Jones’ struggles than it is Zappe’s, as it appeared the rookie’s limitations finally got exposed by a solid NFL passing defense.

Belichick was all over the map during his postgame news conference. He revealed the plan was for Jones and Zappe both to play Monday night — and that both quarterbacks knew the deal. He also said Jones’ removal during the second quarter was part of the game plan rather than a benching and claimed the sophomore quarterback would’ve reentered the game had the score not gotten out of hand. The Patriots trailed by just 12 points at the start of the fourth quarter.

As for which quarterback will start this Sunday afternoon against the New York Jets, Belichick spit on the question.

“We just finished the game,” he said.

Belichick also said that Jones’ health (he now is a month removed from spraining his left ankle) played a role in his planned pitch count following a three-game absence. However, if Jones’ ankle isn’t expected to be a problem moving forward, it’s unclear what motivation Belichick would have for not backing the 24-year-old as the starter. Again, credible reporters have said the Patriots aren’t considering handing the job to Zappe.

If it’s about pushing the 2021 first-round pick, we’re not sure what press conference vagueness would accomplish that being booed and watching your backup getting a standing ovation couldn’t. If Jones, a first-time captain, is the competitor and leader his teammates believe him to be, then scenes like the one that unfolded in the first half should be all the motivation he needs.

Of course, the third possibility is that Belichick is seriously considering rolling with Zappe for the foreseeable future. Given all the evidence and context, it’s hard to see that being the case.

Nevertheless, Belichick seems perfectly content with this drama — one his own players clearly aren’t fans of — living on as the Patriots prepare for a must-win game against the Jets.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
Chicago Bears wide receiver N'Keal Harry and New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
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