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Patriots Analysis: Jones or Zappe, does it really matter?

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Nov 21, 2023

Mac Jones was a feisty leader as a rookie, but right now he appears broken as we wait to see who will start for the Patriots at QB on Sunday vs. the Giants. (AP photo0

So who’s it gonna be?

Will we find out today when Bill Belichick addresses the media? Or will there be a decision made (or announced) by the end of the week?

Or, will the New England Patriots call their starting QB for Sunday’s Stupor Bowl with the New York Giants the proverbial “game time decision” or announcement. That would drive the gambling world crazy.

The New York Jets beat the Patriots to the punch this week with a game on Friday, benching their own stiff, Zach Wilson. Actually, demoting him to third string.

That won’t happen with these Patriots. New England trotted out offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to take the first round of “Guess the QB” questions, and his words were “…one of the reasons why I really enjoy coaching here is you have to earn it on the practice field.

“The way that we practice here, there’s plenty of reps to go around. Now, can ou do it with four guys? Three guys? No. But for two guys, there’s enough reps to go around where everybody gets a shot at it.”

It appears as if it’s really between just Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Good grief, how far from a guy named Brady we have come.

“For me, I basically get everybody ready to play,” O’Brien said. “What we try to do is, every week, regardless of this week, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, get Mac ready to play, get Bailey ready to play. So that’s what we do. And so at the end of the day,Bill will make that decision at some point and we’ll go from there.”

It certainly looks as if Jones is going to get the nod. In some ways, we’d say that’s a huge mistake because he looked completely broken after the loss to the Colts in Germany, as he was pulled with the game on the line in favor of Zappe after throwing a costly, horrendous looking interception.

You see, the golden rule of quarterbacks is don’t turn the ball over. Giants QB Tommy DeVito was sacked nine times but held on to the ball Sunday and didn’t throw a pick or fumble. That’s not easy to do, but the Patriots will expect that of Jones or whoever is in there. The problem is, DeVito has a couple more playmakers – including one Saquon Barkley – than these Patriots do.

“Everything’s fixable,” O’Brien said. “I think at times, Mac’s played really well. I think that’s what we have to remember. I think at times this year, Mac has played really well. And I also think it’s really important to point out that there’s 10 other guys on the field. Everybody’s got to play better. … Mac has played well. Mac will play well again.”

Oh, boy. That certainly sounds like it’s a “Get off Mac’s case” message.

Here’s the thinking: If the Patriots had played a game this past weekend, Zappe would have likely started. But the bye week has let things cool, Jones got first team snaps a few days later, and it just has always seemed that O’Brien is more of a Mac guy than a Zap guy.

We know the owner is. And the last little nugget of a hint we take from O’Brien’s virtual press conference was, when asked what his QB recommendation would be, the coach curiously mentioned owner Robert Kraft.

“I think that anything that’s spoken about between myself, the quarterbacks, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, whatever, stays in the organization.”

When do you ever hear an assistant coach mention the thought of conversations with the owner? O’Brien is Kraft’s guy, and so is Jones.

You add one plus one and get two. As in a second chance for Jones. We’ll see.

The sad thing for the Patriots is it really doesn’t matter all that much, does it?



1. Baltimore (8-3). 2.Kansas City (7-3). 3. Jacksonville (7-3). 4.Miami (7-3). 5. Cleveland (7-3).


1.Philadelphia (9-1). 2.Detroit (8-2). 3. San Francisco (7-3). 4.Dallas (7-3). 5. Seattle (6-4).


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