Nov 26, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) throws the ball during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bailey Zappe mum on Pats’ starting QB gig, appreciates ‘crazy’ journey

Bailey Zappe said the matter of whether he was the New England Patriots’ new starting quarterback was “a Coach Belichick question,” but the second-year pro did not shy away from the spotlight when speaking with reporters Thursday in Foxborough, Mass.

“Nothing’s set in stone. I’m just taking it day by day, treating every rep that I get in practice like it’s a game rep and just preparing like I do every other week,” Zappe said.

Bill Belichick has not said anything definitive ahead of Sunday’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. That is similar to last week, when the starting quarterback job was up in the air before the Patriots faced the New York Giants.

Mac Jones started against New York and threw two interceptions before halftime before he was benched in favor of Zappe. In relief, Zappe completed 9 of 14 passes for 54 yards and an interception in a 10-7 loss.

Zappe took the majority of reps that reporters were allowed to see at Wednesday’s practice. He was followed by undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham, while Jones did not take any reps.

Zappe, 24, was a 2022 fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots and appeared in four games as a rookie, making two starts while Jones was injured. He was a surprising cut at the end of training camp and joined New England’s practice squad after going unclaimed on waivers.

“It’s been crazy,” Zappe said with a smile. “Been a lot of talks with both (team captain Matthew) Slater and Coach and everything, but I mean it’s part of the journey. It’s part, I guess everybody says part of your book, part of your chapter, whatever you want to say. But I mean, it’s been fun. It’s been a lot of learning, so I’m excited.”

–Field Level Media

Robert Kraft greets his QB Mac Jones as practice starts.

Pats Camp 2

Patriots QB1 in Week 13? Ask Robert Kraft

Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien perceives the QB call for the Patriots is coming from the top of the organization. In New England, that would imply owner Robert Kraft and not head coach Bill Belichick.

Asked about Mac Jones’ hold on the starting quarterback job entering Week 13, O’Brien said he doesn’t have a deciding vote.

“I don’t make those calls. There’s a chain of command. The chain of command is Robert Kraft at the top, Bill Belichick and the assistant coaches are down here,” O’Brien said Tuesday.

O’Brien said the Patriots (2-9) aren’t zeroing in on individual roles but rather focusing on collective preparation for the Los Angeles Chargers. New England has lost four consecutive games and went 1-7 in October and November.

After throwing two interceptions in Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, Jones was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe.

O’Brien said he is responsible for the lack of production from the Patriots’ offense, not Jones.

“Things haven’t gone great for him this year,” O’Brien said of Jones. “I don’t think that he’s the No. 1 guy to blame. If you want to blame anyone, blame me. I’m the one who designs it, and it’s not going very well.”

Jones has been benched in four games this season. He has 10 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and two wins.

Asked Monday on WEEI if he expected to be the starter this week, Jones said, “You always ask me, right? I think the biggest thing for me is — that’s a result. I’m going to focus on the process this week. Focus on competing and getting better. That’s all I’ve ever done at every sport. I know that if I do that, we’ll be in good hands. That’s something I need to focus on as always. I do have confidence in myself, and I have confidence in the guys around me.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) leaves the field after an NFL International Series game against the Indianapolis Colts at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Patriots QB Mac Jones to start vs. Giants

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is expected to start Sunday’s game at the New York Giants, multiple media outlets reported.

NFL Network reported that backup Bailey Zappe could get into the game at some point, however.

The two split reps in practice this week for the Patriots, who benched Jones in favor of Zappe for the final drive of a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 12 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Patriots entered their bye after that game.

Head coach Bill Belichick declined throughout the week to name a starter.

Jones, a 2021 first-round pick, has thrown 10 interceptions and 10 touchdowns through 10 games.

New England (2-8) is wallowing in last place in the AFC East and looks to be headed for the worst season since head coach Bill Belichick’s first with the Patriots when they finished 5-11 in 2000.

New England ranks 31st in the league with an average of just 14.1 points per game. The Giants are last at 13.5 per contest.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) quarterback Mac Jones (10) and quarterback Will Grier (19) walk out of the tunnel prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Patriots waive No. 3 QB Will Grier

Amid instability at the quarterback position, the New England Patriots are waiving Will Grier, ESPN reported Saturday.

The Patriots signed Grier, 28, to the active squad from the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad in September. He hasn’t seen any game action.

New England coach Bill Belichick has not named a starter for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. NBC Sports Boston reported Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe split the reps at quarterback during practice this week.

Zappe told reporters that he had not been informed whether he’d be starting.

“I’ve told everybody to be ready to go,” Belichick said Friday. “Hopefully, that’s what they’re all doing. I’m not going to announce starters at every position or whatever. Everybody will be ready to go.”

Jones was benched late in the fourth quarter of a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 12 and replaced by Zappe. The Patriots had a bye this past week.

In 10 games this season, Jones, 25, has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,031 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He’s been sacked 21 times and lost 127 yards.

Zappe, 24, has completed 10 of 25 pass attempts for 104 yards with an interception.

The Patriots are wallowing in last place in the AFC East with a record of 2-8 and look to be headed for the worst season since Belichick’s first with the Patriots when they finished 5-11 in 2000.

New England ranks 31st in the league with an average of just 14.1 points per game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) and quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) talk with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots OC implies starting QB is open for Week 12

New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien left the door open Monday that Mac Jones might not be the starting quarterback in Week 12 for the 2-8 Patriots.

Meeting with reporters coming out of their bye week, O’Brien hinted that this week’s starter against the New York Giants (3-8) could be determined in practice.

“For me, I basically get everybody ready to play,” O’Brien said when asked if Jones was still the team’s starter. “At the end of the day, Bill (Belichick) will make that decision at some point and we’ll go from there.”

O’Brien said Jones still took first-team reps last week but said backup Bailey Zappe and third-string QB Will Grier also “rotated in there.”

“You have to strive for perfection on the practice field and then hopefully that leads to good execution in the games,” O’Brien said. “Right now, we haven’t had consistent enough execution in the games. … We have to have good practices, and then we can all determine, at every position, who should play the most.”

Jones was benched — again — in the Patriots’ ugly loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany on Nov. 12. The end of his day came after badly underthrowing an open Mike Gesicki in the end zone. It was the third time this season Jones has been yanked from a game.

O’Brien erupted at Jones earlier in the game on the sideline.

“I think that was just coaching in the moment,” O’Brien said. “That’s kinda the way I coach. Sometimes the way to get a point across is to be very demanding and very intense about it. That’s just the way I coach. That’s who I am. That’s how I’ve always coached. Sometimes that rubs certain players the wrong way. Sometimes players want that. I don’t want to speak for Mac, but I think Mac wants to be coached.”

Jones, 25, has thrown for 2,031 yards and 10 touchdowns against 10 interceptions this season. The Patriots picked him 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) checks with head coach Bill Belichick, left, and senior football advisor Matt Patricia, second from left, during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick noncommittal on Patriots QB

Faced with questions about sticking with Mac Jones as his starting quarterback, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stopped far short of a vote of confidence on Tuesday.

Jones was benched as the final minutes of a loss to the Indianapolis Colts played out in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday — New England’s eighth defeat in 10 games in 2023. Jones threw an interception in the fourth quarter and watched Bailey Zappe take the reins on the potential game-winning drive. Zappe also threw an interception.

“I have to play better to not be in that situation,” Jones said Sunday.

Belichick can pick through every snap of that game and beyond before the Patriots play again Nov. 26 against the New York Giants. He indicated Tuesday he plans to take time to make a number of decisions without mentioning the quarterback position.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on this week as a team, and we’ll work through those,” Belichick said. “That is what we are going to do this week.

Jones was sacked a season-high five times by the Colts. He has 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season, part of his total of 40 turnovers since 2021, third-worst in the NFL.

The Patriots are 26th in the NFL in total offense with 294.5 yards per game and 31st in the NFL in scoring at 14.1 points per game.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots QB Mac Jones to start Sunday vs. Raiders

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick confirmed Wednesday that Mac Jones remains his starting quarterback.

The third-year signal-caller will be under center Sunday when New England (1-4) visits Las Vegas (2-3).

“Yeah, we’re not making any changes,” said Belichick, who pulled Jones from the past two games.

Jones, 25, has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,008 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions in five starts this season.

He combined for four picks and zero TD tosses in lopsided losses to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 (38-3) and the New Orleans Saints (34-0) in Week 5.

Backup Bailey Zappe replaced Jones in those defeats and was 7-of-18 passing for 79 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Jones was a first-round pick (15th overall) and a Pro Bowl selection as a 2021 rookie but saw his numbers regress in 2022. He has passed for 7,806 yards with 41 TDs and 30 interceptions in 36 starts (17-19 record).

–Field Level Media

Aug 3, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien head to the practice fields for  training camp at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots OC Bill O’Brien has ‘a lot of belief’ in QB Mac Jones

Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and the New England Patriots still believe in Mac Jones as their starting quarterback.

Jones was benched during New England’s 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but coach Bill Belichick said afterward Jones would remain the No. 1 signal-caller ahead of Bailey Zappe.

O’Brien backed up that stance when speaking to reporters Tuesday.

“He blames himself. The game wasn’t lost because of one guy,” O’Brien said. “The game was lost, on our part, because of how poorly we played and coached in the game.

“We have a lot of belief in Mac; I think he’ll get back to doing it the way he knows how to do it.”

Jones completed just 12 of 21 passes for 150 yards and threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He also lost a fumble that Dallas returned to the end zone.

O’Brien said the Patriots let things get “out of hand” as the Cowboys’ defense started to stack big plays. Jones was running to avoid pressure and trying to extend the play when he was stripped.

“Some of the decisions that he made were very uncharacteristic of Mac,” O’Brien said. “He’s just trying to make a play, he’s wanting to win, he’s very competitive. I think you’ll see a lot of improvement in Mac as we keep moving forward here.”

O’Brien is in his first season back with the Patriots after working on New England’s offensive coaching staff from 2007-11.

On the season, Jones has completed 93 of 146 passes for 898 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. The Patriots have started the season 1-3, winning only a 15-10 squeaker over the New York Jets.

Jones — who was a first-round draft pick, a Pro Bowl selection and runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021 — was also benched for Zappe during a loss to the Chicago Bears in 2022.

“Mac is a battler,” O’Brien said. “He’s a competitor. When you play quarterback in this league, you have to limit the mistakes and you have to limit the bad games that you have, obviously. We’re all in it together. We have to do a better job of coaching up some things with him a little bit better. He has to do a better job of making good decisions for us.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) pushes New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) behind a group of players during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFL looks into Mac Jones’ alleged low blow

The NFL is looking into Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner’s claim that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones hit him below the belt on Sunday, NBC Sports reported.

“He reached out to me to get me to help him up. I just moved his hand out of the way. He got up and then came up to me like ‘Good job.’ While he was saying that, he hit me in my private parts,” Gardner said after New York’s 15-10 loss to New England in East Rutherford, N.J.

“I didn’t react like I really wanted to. I definitely wasn’t expecting that. First time for everything, I guess. … He’s trying to prevent me from having kids in the future.”

Video of the interaction posted to social media is inconclusive but does show Gardner reacting to whatever may have transpired by shoving Jones to the ground.

Gardner, 23, was the 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Through three games this season, he has 12 tackles, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.

Jones, 25, is in his third year with the Patriots. He has completed 81 of 125 passes for 748 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions through three starts this season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts after the Patriots scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick high on Mac Jones; QB2 unsettled for opener

New England coach Bill Belichick praised third-year starter Mac Jones for his offseason and training camp work and also addressed the Patriots’ backup quarterback battle on Monday.

Belichick made the comments during an interview on WEEI Radio and also in a video conference with reporters.

“Mac’s had a good offseason and has had a really good camp,” Belichick said in the video conference, adding separately that Jones is in “excellent physical condition.”

“And I’d say he’s made a lot of improvement over the spring and training camp in reads, decision-making and timing,” Belichick told WEEI. “(He’s) getting more work, timing with the guys he’s throwing to, (he) works hard. Looking forward to the season here with Mac.”

Jones, who turns 25 on Tuesday, was the only QB kept on the initial 53-man roster until the Patriots claimed Matt Corral off waivers. Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham were signed last week to the practice squad.

Belichick was non-committal about who would suit up as the backup and emergency QB3 in Week 1 against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, given that Corral just joined the team.

“All roster decisions are based on what we feel like is best for our football team, so there’s a number of things involved there,” Belichick said. “We’re glad to have Bailey, going to continue to work with him, still think he’s a good, young developing player.”

As for Corral, Belichick said, “He hasn’t even been on the field yet, so we’ll see.”

“Based on what we saw in Carolina and going back to the college film at Mississippi, he’s a player we wanted to work with,” he added.

Corral, 24, made the Panthers’ initial 53-man roster last week as a backup to No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young and veteran Andy Dalton, but Carolina subsequently waived him.

Zappe, 24, was New England’s fourth-round pick in 2022. He won both of his starts last season and completed 65 of 92 passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

–Field Level Media