FOXborough, MA – New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t ready to name the quarterback following the 33-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
Belichick pulled starter Mac Jones after three series, fielding rookie Bailey Zappe in place for the rest of the game and raising the question of who would start when the team visits the New York Jets on Sunday.
And Belichick wasn’t ready to commit late on Monday, saying, “We just finished the match.”
Jones’ last play was an objection, but Belichick insisted he was not off the bench and would have returned to the match in the second half if the score had been closer.
He said the team intended to play both Jones and Zapp – and informed both players of the plan leading up to the game – with Jones recovering from a left ankle sprain “one of the factors” in the decision. Jones was playing for the first time since September 25.
The Patriots fell 10-0 in the first quarter, and Zap’s entry into the game created an instant spark with cascading downward drives. But Zappe (14 of 22 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions) couldn’t stand the momentum in the second half.
As for what that means in Sunday’s game against the Jets (5-2), Jones is ready for any scenario. It’s a crucial match for the Patriots, who find themselves last at 3-4 in the East Asia region.
“I think when Sunday comes, we’ll know,” Jones said after 3 of 6 for 13 yards with one interception. “I’ve been in this situation before, and I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever my turn, I’ll be ready, and I’ll give it 100%.”
Jones will not put a percentage on his health.
“I don’t do the full percentage,” he said. “You either be able to play or you don’t. In the NFL, you don’t get any credit for playing or not, and there are no excuses.” “So I felt like I was fine. With time, things will get better. I have to play better.”
Some of the Patriots players seemed surprised by the midfield switch – and to hear the home team’s fans chanting “Zappy! Zappy! Zappy!” Jones also struggled. Zappe has had remarkable fan support after helping the team achieve wins in the past two weeks.
“This is the NFL for you,” said Jacoby Myers, one of the pioneers of widespread reception. “It’s a fast-changing business.” “It’s hard, as a man, to see someone who works so hard getting that kind of treatment.”
Jones said he knows Zappy will play sometime on Monday.
“I think Coach Belichick had a really good plan for us. I understood the plan and what was going to happen…and timing is timing. We were on the same page, no hard feelings or anything,” Jones said.
“I wish I played a little better. Obviously the match wasn’t good by either of us, and it starts with me.”
Zappy was asked when he learned that Jones would start on Monday.
He replied, “At about the same time you all did,” which seemed to be a sign that kick-off was imminent. “I prepare like I had every two weeks, as if you were playing away. It’s the same thing I’m going to do this week.”
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