Coaches ‘Stacking Deck’ For Bailey Zappe Vs. Mac Jones? Patriots Writer Speculates

'... Some believe there's some deck-stacking going on in this QB mess'


Oct 25, 2022

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have greatly mismanaged the team’s quarterback situation, as on display on “Monday Night Football” with both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe taking the field in a 33-14 beatdown by the Chicago Bears.

Jones played the first three series of the game with little success on offense, the first two drives resulting in a three-and-out with the third possession ending in an interception thrown by Jones. He was booed off the field with those at Gillette Stadium clearly wishing for Zappe. Zappe, meanwhile, gave the team a spark on the fourth and fifth possessions, helping New England’s offense score a pair of touchdowns and ultimately erase a 10-point deficit. The reasons behind the quarterbacks having varying levels of success can be traced to a number of things — play calls, execution, field position, etc. — but Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard went into detail about how coaching played a crucial role in the difference of those five possessions.

And it prompted Bedard, who has covered the Patriots for more than a decade, to speculate about how the team’s offensive coaches might be “stacking” the deck in hopes of getting Zappe, a 2022 fourth-rounder, to take over for Jones, a 2021 first-round pick.

“Is Belichick going to ask some hard questions of offensive coordinator Matt Patricia and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge?” Bedard wrote in a story published Tuesday morning. “Maybe he should, since some believe there’s some deck-stacking going on in this QB mess.”

Bedard followed up by citing the differences in play calls and offensive execution, expressing how Jones was behind center for more simple calls with Zappe then calling the shots on plays that made it more difficult for Chicago’s defense to play. The reason coaches like Patricia and Judge would be inclined to do so, Bedard wrote, relates to a preference in working with Zappe as opposed to Jones.

“Here’s the question: where was that type of call for Jones? Was Patricia saving it for Zappe? Was he stacking the deck for Zappe, who wasn’t here last year, doesn’t know what a real NFL OC/QB coach looks or sounds like, and who does anything the coaches want?” Bedard wrote. “I heard from two league sources during the game who asked that very question.

“There’s a feeling that Patricia and Judge don’t know how to get Jones playing better because they’ve never been tasked with that, that they’d rather go with Zappe because he does exactly as ordered and is a clean slate. And that Patricia and Judge heavily influenced the decision to get Zappe into the game,” Bedard continued. “But now that Zappe has been exposed as a short, limited rookie who isn’t a starting quarterback, now what are Patricia and Judge to do?”

One thing is for certain: There’s no longer a debate about the Patriots having a quarterback controversy. They do. Belichick has invited it will his reluctance to name a starter or answer “hypothetical” questions regarding who will start when Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3, is fully healthy. It’s now the case whether or not it was part of the plan leading up to Monday night.

And it’s also allowed speculation like Bedard’s to have a leg to stand on until a decision is made.

Thumbnail photo via Bob Breidenbach/USA TODAY Sports Images
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