Mac Jones Takes High Road, Backs Patriots’ QB Plan After Loss

'I think Coach Belichick had a really good plan for us'


Oct 25, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — If Mac Jones was miffed by his removal from Monday night’s New England Patriots loss, he didn’t show it postgame.

Jones, who played three series before giving way to rookie backup Bailey Zappe, said he was aware of and on board with head coach Bill Belichick’s unorthodox plan to play both quarterbacks against the Chicago Bears.

“I think Coach Belichick had a really good plan for us,” Jones said after the Patriots lost 33-14 at Gillette Stadium. “Obviously, that’s kind of internal stuff, but I understood the plan and what was going to happen. Obviously, wish we got off to a better start and I played a little bit better, but I’ll have a chance to practice and get back into my routine.

“Something that I want to work on is getting back in my routine. I’m a very routine person, and I’m excited for this week. That’s all you can do, right? You can’t really look back in the past. Obviously, the game wasn’t good by any of us, and starts with me.”

After missing the previous three games with a high ankle sprain, Jones struggled to move the ball in his primetime return to the lineup. The Patriots went three-and-out on his first two possessions, and his third and final ended with an interception, his sixth in four games this season. When New England’s offense took the field for its fourth drive, Zappe was behind center, drawing raucous cheers from the home crowd.

The fourth-round draft pick immediately led a pair of quick-strike touchdown drives, but he cooled off as the game progressed. Zappe lost a fumble on a botched handoff to Jakobi Meyers on his third possession, then went three-and-out, three-and-out, interception, interception on his next four. As the Patriots’ offense stalled, Justin Fields and the Bears battered New England’s defense, getting points on five consecutive possessions to pull away.

Jones finished 3-for-6 for 13 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, adding 24 rushing yards on three scrambles. Zappe was 14-of-22 for 185 yards and one touchdown with two picks and averaged just 4.8 yards per attempt after halftime (76 yards on 9-of-16 passing).

Belichick said after the game that Jones wasn’t pulled for poor performance or because of an in-game injury, though he admitted Jones’ health was “a factor” in the team’s plan to use both QBs. Belichick also said Jones would have reentered the game at some point in the second half had the score not gotten “out of hand.”

It’s unclear when this return would have taken place. Chicago, up six at half, scored two minutes into the fourth quarter to stretch its lead to 19 points.

“(It was) just part of the plan,” Jones said of his benching. “I think Coach Belichick obviously did a really, really good job explaining it to me. I knew what the plan was, and the timing is the timing, but we were on the same page, and there’s no hard feelings or anything. I wish I played better while I was in there, but hopefully I’ll have a chance to do that in practice and kind of earn that back and then apply it in the game. We definitely want to play better as a team, and we’re going to do that and work together and put our best foot forward.”

Multiple Patriots players said they were surprised to see Zappe replace Jones when he did. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers also took issue with Jones’ “treatment” in the game, referencing both his usage and the reaction from the fans in attendance, many of whom booed the second-year QB and chanted Zappe’s name.

Jones was asked for his reaction to the boos.

“I think obviously, like I said earlier, definitely wanted to play better,” he replied. I just have to do better at my job, and that’s all it comes down to. That’s all I can control. Honestly, we’ve got a good chance here to go against the Jets, and that’s what I’m focused on. I’m going to do my best to put my best foot forward. I’ve been in this situation before, and just going to try to help the team. Whatever my role is, I’ll be ready, and I’ll give it 100%.”

Now 3-4 on the season, the Patriots will travel to New York this weekend for a hugely important, short-week, divisional matchup with the upstart Jets, who sit at 5-2. Belichick declined to name a starting quarterback for that game. Jones, who said he felt “pretty good” physically Monday night, was asked whether he expects to get the nod.

“I guess when Sunday comes, we’ll know,” he replied.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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