Patriots Replace Mac Jones With Bailey Zappe At QB

The Patriots’ decision to give Mac Jones another start in the wake of his ongoing struggles has proven to be rather short-lived. Jones has been replaced by backup Bailey Zappe to start the second half of New England’s game against the Giants.

Throughout the week, it remained unclear which passer would get the nod for today’s contest. An open competition between the two ensued during practice, with Jones earning a slight advantage. It was therefore the 2021 first-rounder who got the nod to begin the game, with the understanding that Zappe could see time as well. After a poor outing in the first half by Jones, a switch has indeed been made.

This marks the fourth time in 2023 that Jones has been lifted from a game, though on the first two occasions the move game late in contests with a lopsided score. In New England’s most recent game, however, Jones was replaced for the final series of the game with a comeback victory still in the cards. That move to Zappe – who was unable to pull off the upset in his extremely limited action – suggested he could unseat Jones as the starter in the near future. The 2022 fourth-rounder could now play his way into a longer look in the No. 1 spot with an encouraging performance against the Giants.

The Patriots trailed New York 7-0 at halftime after allowing a touchdown set up by one of Jones’ two interceptions. The Alabama alum went 12-of-21 for 89 yards in Week 12, continuing his Year 3 struggles. The hire of veteran play-caller Bill O’Brien was seen as a positive development for Jones’ ability to rebound from a poor showing in 2022 and revert to his more encouraging play as a rookie. That has not been the case, though, leading to serious speculation he will not be in place as the team’s starter for 2024, the final year of his rookie contract.

During Zappe’s first drive in relief of Jones, he completed all six of his passes for 38 yards to help set up a touchdown. If that success can be replicated, the Patriots will have an interesting decision to make to close out the season under center. Demoting Jones to backup permanently would likely mark an end to his tenure in New England, especially with the 2-8 outfit in line to have a strong chance at adding a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 draft. For now, though, the level of play delivered by Zappe (who struggled in O’Brien’s system in the training camp and was initially waived during roster cutdowns) will be worth watching closely.

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