Per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, who referenced a “source,” there is “no quarterback controversy,” Jones will start when deemed healthy, which appears to be this Monday against the Bears.
Jones is Backing Up the Reports at Practice in Thursday
On Thursday morning, Jones was at Patriots practice and didn’t look hampered by the high ankle sprain he suffered in the team’s Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Jones was in the position usually designated for the starting quarterback to begin practice, per this tweet from Joe Kayata of WJAR-TV.
George Balekji of NESN captured Jones “jogging” out to take snaps in his tweet.
With all indications pointing to Jones returning to the starting lineup and the aforementioned reports hitting the Twitterverse, there was no shortage of strong fan reactions to the new information.
Fans React to Patriots Likely Returning to Mac Jones
One fan compared the Patriots’ situation to one of their AFC East rivals, the New York Jets, in 2021. He believes Jones “gives the Patriots the best chance to win.”
In 2021, the New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson suffered an injury that forced Mike White into action. With White at quarterback, the Jets put together a 1-2 record, and he completed 66.7% of his passes with 5 TDs and eight interceptions. The Jets had struggled with Wilson, and there were some murmurs about White remaining the starter because the team was a little less miserable on the field with the latter under center.
However, what Zappe has produced, at least statistically and where it counts most, in the win column, is vastly superior to White’s haul in three starts with the Jets in 2021. Also, White was 26 years old in 2021 and had been drafted in 2018. The long-term ceiling for him was much lower than it is for Zappe.
Another fan called the Patriots’ apparent decision to go back to Jones a bad one. He claims Zappe “should be the starter until he loses his job.”
While I’ll make Zappe’s case for remaining in the starting spot a little later, this is a flawed argument simply because the same case could be made for Jones. The latter didn’t “lose” his job because of poor play–though you could say he was playing poorly when he went down with an injury. He threw a pick on the play he got hurt.
Still, Zappe hadn’t graduated to being named the starter, so to speak. Until Jones was healthy and Zappe was still tabbed as the starter, the rookie couldn’t truly consider himself the team’s QB1.
Another fan doesn’t think it is far-fetched to imagine Belichick benching Jones for Zappe, considering he put Drew Bledsoe on the bench in favor of Tom Brady 20-plus years ago.
There are some obvious similarities but also some very obvious differences. Bledsoe was 29 years old when Brady took over for him. He had been the quarterback for the team since they drafted him No. 1 overall in 1993, which was before Belichick was the head coach.
So while Bledsoe was beloved, he was not Belichick’s guy. Belichick’s regime drafted Jones in the first round last year and despite the slow start, there hasn’t been enough bad play to pivot completely away from him being the team’s franchise QB.
They also drafted Zappe, but ultimately it wasn’t too push Jones out, but more so to be a long-term backup or potential trade chip down the road.
Those are some very important differences.
Another fan points out a very important potential event. His point is that there won’t actually be a controversy unless Jones returns on Monday and struggles against the Bears.
What does Belichick do if Jones and the offense struggle in the first half and the Bears have a 10-point halftime lead? That’s the true test and could be the birth of a real QB controversy.
Another fan suggests Zappe’s strong play will ultimately be a positive for Jones. In his point, he sees Jones having his false sense of security removed.
We will have more answers to these compelling questions on Monday night.