Patriots Head Coach Declines to Name Starting Quarterback

The New England Patriots ignited a quarterback controversy for the ages in their 33-14 Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears when they benched starting quarterback Mac Jones in the second quarter. Head coach Bill Belichick had an opportunity to lend some clarity to the matter at his Tuesday presser, but intentionally or not, he only added fuel to the fire by declining to confirm Jones would be the starter if healthy. Jones exited on Monday night after three scoreless drives, giving way to promising rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe. Zappe led the Patriots to a pair of touchdowns on his exhilarating first two possessions, but he unravelled shortly after, turning the ball over three times and allowing the Bears to score 23 answered points.

Despite the ugly second half, Zappe has arguably outperformed Jones through seven weeks, topping the second-year quarterback in net yards per attempt and passing yards per start. More importantly, he has avoided back-breaking interceptions, throwing three picks on 3.3% of his passes to Jones' six on 5.8%. Zappe's mark isn't impressive, but Jones' is outright disastrous.

Simply put, the Patriots aren't a strong enough team to survive mistake-prone quarterback play. Their defense ranks 15th in yards allowed, and they've run for the 12th most yards in the league. Those numbers necessitate competent quarterback play. If the team intends to contend this year, they'll have to do much better than their 30th ranking in giveaways through seven weeks of the regular season. Jones or Zappe don't necessarily need to steer the ship, but they can't sink it.
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