Getty Bill Belichick addressed the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback situation after benching Mac Jones in Week 10.
The New England Patriots appear to be headed for a quarterback controversy after Bill Belichick replaced Mac Jones with Bailey Zappe in a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts late in Week 10.
Zappe entered the field for the final drive of the game and promptly threw an interception to seal the Colts’ win. Still, Belichick wouldn’t confirm whether Jones will return as the starter for the Pats’ next game, the trip to MetLife Stadium in Week 12 to face the New York Giants.
Instead, the under-fire head coach simply said, “We’ll worry about next week, next week,” according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe. When asked why he reached out to Zappe, the six-time Super Bowl winner simply replied, “Yeah, I just thought it was time for a change.”
Is Mac still the QB next week?
“We’ll worry about next week next week.”
Why install Zappe?
“Yeah, I just thought it was time for a change.” pic.twitter.com/EuS5eVDGY3
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 12, 2023
The Patriots have a bye week before facing the Giants, so Belichick should expect a lot of questions about his team’s starting quarterback situation. His usually noncommittal answers didn’t help, nor did one member of the offense who expressed surprise that Jones was benched late in Frankfurt, Germany.
To make matters worse, Belichick will certainly face questions about his own future. The 71-year-old’s job security was a hot topic before the game, but speculation will only intensify now that the Patriots have slipped to 2-8, with owner Robert Kraft already making it clear how unhappy he is with this season’s dismal record is.
Bill Belichick and Mac Jones face QB controversy
Belichick may want to rely on vague, neutral answers, but the coach and Jones are facing real controversy at football’s most important position. First, there’s Zappe, who, according to Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, confidently states that he’s “100%” fit to start.
Zappe wants the job, but do his teammates feel the same way? Some, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, were “surprised” that Jones was sent to the sideline, according to Zack Cox of NESN.com.
Jones also appears to have the support of tight end Hunter Henry. The latter says he still has “a lot of confidence” in Jones, according to Chad Graff of The Athletic.
The players still support Jones, but things may look different for the coaches. Belichick’s decision to tie up Jones with the game on the line spoke volumes about how he assessed No. 10’s performance.
While Jones collected five sacks, he also threw an interception to Julian Blackmon and missed several throws he should have made. The most notable mistake came when Jones running back Rhamondre Stevenson opened a third down early in the third quarter, but the signal caller looked elsewhere and threw incomplete.
Rookie kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal attempt on the next play, leaving the Patriots trailing 7-3. However, the focus was on a heated exchange, highlighted by Pro Football Focus, in which Jones was berated by offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
A moment like this at least suggests that coaches might be open to a change at QB1. Belichick might need a change like this to spark a revival and keep his job.
Bill Belichick’s future in further doubt
There was something ominous when Kraft said to Rich Eisen before the game on NFL GameDay: “This is our 30th year of having the privilege of owning this team. And I’ve never been between 2 and 7. So it’s really disappointing. I was hoping things would get a lot better, and I know our fan base did.”
Kraft looked for a “reset” against the Colts, but Belichick’s team couldn’t deliver. The failure in Germany occurred on the same day. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the contract extension Belichick signed earlier this season only puts him under contract “for at least this year and next year.”
So Belichick essentially received a one-year extension. Something that shouldn’t be too difficult for the Patriots to get out of the game early if Kraft decides to move.
This move is something Volin reported “could happen” during the bye week if the Patriots lose to the Colts. Now another loss is imminent and all eyes will be on Belichick’s future.
If he survives another week, a change at quarterback could be inevitable for a coach desperate to reverse both his own fortunes and that of the Patriots.
James Dudko covers the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens for Heavy.com. He has covered the NFL and world soccer since 2011, with bylines at FanSided, Prime Time Sports Talk and Bleacher Report, before moving to Heavy in 2021. More about James Dudko
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