Head coach Bill Belichick didn’t venture to name a starting quarterback after New England’s 33-14 loss to Chicago on Monday night.
FOXBOROUGH — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t venture to name a starting quarterback after Monday night’s 33-14 blowout loss to the Chicago Bears.
Belichick took out starter Mac Jones after just three drives, inserting rookie Bailey Zappe in his place for the rest of the game, and adding to the controversy over who will start when the team visits the New York Jets next Sunday.RELATED
Belichick wasn’t ready to commit to anyone on Monday night, saying, “We just finished the game.”
Jones’ final play was an interception, but Belichick insisted he wasn’t benched and would have returned to the game in the second half had the score been closer.
He said the team intended to play both Jones and Zappe — and informed both players of the plan heading into the game — with Jones’s recovery from a high left ankle sprain a “factor.” in the decision. Jones was playing for the first time since Sept. 25.
Mac Jones gave way to Bailey Zappe on Monday night after just three drives leading the Patriots’ offense. Getty Images
The Patriots trailed 10-0 in the first period, and Zappe’s entry into the game created an immediate spark with back-to-back touchdown drives. But Zappe (14-of-22 for 185 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions) couldn’t hold his own until the second half.
As for what he means going into Sunday’s game against the Jets (5-2), Jones is prepared for any scenario. It’s a critical game for the Patriots, who at 3-4 sit in last place in the AFC East.
“I guess come Sunday we’ll know,” Jones said, after going 3-for-6 for 13 yards with an interception. “I’ve been in this situation before, and I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever my role, I’ll be ready, and I’ll give 100 percent.”
Jones did not want to put a percentage on his health.
“I don’t really like to do that percentage thing. You may or you may not play. In the NFL, they don’t give you credit for playing hurt or not, there are no excuses,” he said. “So I felt like he was ready to play. Over time, he’s going to get better. I just have to play better.”
Some Patriots players seemed surprised by the quarterback change, and to hear fans chanting “Zappe! Zappe! Zappe!” as Jones suffered. Zappe had generated notable fan support, having helped the team to two wins in the last couple of weeks.
“That’s the NFL. It’s a fast-changing business,” said Jakobi Meyers, leading receiver for the team. “It’s tough, as a man, to see someone who works so hard get that kind of treatment.”
Jones said he knew Zappe would play at some point on Monday.
“I think Coach Belichick had a really good plan for us. I understood the plan and what was going to happen … and time is time. We were on the same page, and no hard feelings or anything,” Jones said.
“I wish I had played a little bit better. Obviously the game didn’t go well for any of us, and it starts with me.”
Zappe was asked when he found out Jones would start Monday.
“About the same time as all of you,” he replied, a reference to it being close to kickoff. “I prepared like I have every week, like I was one play away. It’s the same thing I’m going to do this week.”