Controversy strikes Patriots’ quarterback room
The New England Patriots face a tough decision whether to start Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe.
As many fans, analysts, and players can agree, the quarterback is the most crucial position on a football team. Not only are they the leader of the offense, but they are the face of the team. A phenomenal quarterback is essential to winning games, including the illustrious Super Bowl, an accomplishment every player and fan aspires to achieve. What would you do if you had two outstanding quarterbacks? Who would you give the starting nod to?
The New England Patriots currently face this dilemma between sophomore sensation Mac Jones and the remarkable rookie Bailey Zappe.
Jones, the Patriots’ 2021 first-round pick, has had a slow start to the season. After finishing last season as a pro bowler and runner-up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, he has failed to live up to expectations. Through the first three weeks, Jones had an abysmal 2:5 touchdown to interception ratio. During the week three loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Jones suffered a high ankle sprain which caused him to miss some time.
Veteran backup Brian Hoyer started week four against the Green Bay Packers in Jones’ absence. However, Hoyer sustained an injury in the first quarter of the game and was quickly replaced by Zappe.
Zappe, this year's fourth-round pick by the Pats, played a solid game in relief despite a 27-24 overtime loss, earning him the opportunity to start for the remainder of Jones’ absence. In his starting debut in week five against the Detroit Lions, Zappe led the Patriots to a 29-0 shutout win, throwing for 188 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Following this impressive performance, Zappe was the talk of the football world. During the week six matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Zappe threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, torching the Browns for a 38-15 victory. This win made Zappe the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win his first two starts while recording a 100+ passer rating in each game.
In the Patriots’ week seven matchup vs. the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, Jones returned to the lineup as the starter. Through his first two drives, Jones went three-and-out in both campaigns. An interception on the third drive was the final straw for fans. After the thrown pick, “Zappe'' chants began to fill the air at Gillette Stadium. Patriots’ fans received their wish, as Jones was benched in favor of Zappe for their fourth drive. For his first two drives, Zappe was lightning in a bottle, throwing a touchdown on his first drive and leading the team down the field to score another on his second. Unfortunately, that would be the best of his performance, as the rookie threw for two interceptions and lost his momentum. As a result, the Patriots suffered a 33-14 defeat.
For the Patriots' week eight matchup this past Sunday against the New York Jets, Jones was given the start. He finished the game throwing for 194 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing an interception. Their game script relied heavily on their rushing attack, spearheaded by the two-headed monster of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. The Jones-led offense was sluggish — they couldn’t punch the ball in the endzone on multiple drives, resulting in a stellar day for kicker Nick Folk, who went 5/5 on field goals. Despite the offensive struggles, the defense showed up in monstrous fashion, leading the Pats to a crucial 22-17 victory against their AFC East foe.
Head coach Bill Belichick, in typical fashion, has kept questions pertaining to the two quarterbacks very cryptic. At most, all the public knows is that Belichick is fond of both and will play whoever he feels gives the team the best chance to win. This quarterback controversy will be an ongoing development as the season advances.