Peyton Manning Makes Undeniable Point In Mac Jones Defense

'That's a hard way to play quarterback'


Oct 25, 2022

It’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to Mac Jones, Bill Belichick, Bailey Zappe and the Patriots offense.

New England finds itself in a full-fledged quarterback controversy after an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night. Jones made his return from an ankle injury and started the game. He lasted just three drives, pulled after throwing a second-quarter interception. Zappe led two touchdown drives on his first two drives, and Jones never returned.

That’s despite the fact that Belichick told ESPN’s Lisa Salters the plan was for Jones to get some run in the second half. Ultimately, Belichick explained after the game, the Patriots eventually getting blown out led the team to keep Jones on the sideline. In the process, of course, Zappe played poorly and now the Patriots find themselves in a sticky situation.

To the surprise of no one, answers were hard to come by after the game.

So, we’re all left to speculate and form our own opinions about what we saw on the field. NFL legend Peyton Manning provided real-time commentary Monday night during the “ManningCast” version of “Monday Night Football,” saying he’s sympathetic to an unfortunate situation for Jones.

“He had some turnovers early, (but) that’s a pretty quick hook … He’s not happy about it, and I understand it,” Manning told his brother, Eli Manning, on the ESPN2 broadcast. “That’s a hard way to play quarterback. If you’re hesitant to make a play, knowing you’re gonna come out, my guess is he didn’t know the deal. They have confidence in Zappe, he’s made some good decisions, but I hate that for a quarterback to throw an interception — we’ve all thrown them — and you don’t usually come out right away.”

Belichick insisted after the game the plan all along was for Jones to eventually come out of the game and for Zappe to get some snaps. That plan was communicated to Jones, Belichick said, but judging by Jones’ reaction on the sideline — it wasn’t clear when that would happen. That the hook occurred right after Jones threw a boneheaded interception only leads to speculation that the Patriots wanted to give Zappe a try.

That Zappe immediately led two touchdown drives probably complicated the calculus, but then the game got away real fast. It all leads to an uncomfortable situation to say the least.

Manning certainly has an interesting perspective. He was fed to the wolves as a rookie, throwing a league-high 28 interceptions for the Colts in 1998. Then, in his final season, Manning was mercifully benched with Denver in Week 10 after starting a game 5-for-20 with four picks against Kansas City. Manning was a shell of himself physically, at that point, dealing with a foot injury that ultimately kept him out of six games down the stretch.

He returned in Week 17 in relief of Brock Osweiler to help ice a crucial win and then kept his job all the way through the Broncos’ Super Bowl. It’s not a perfect comparison, obviously, but Manning does know what it’s like. The Patriots must also hope it ends in a similar way.

Thumbnail photo via Bob Breidenbach via USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
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