Why is Mac Jones benched? Patriots QB’s situation explored
Bailey Zappe started the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers for the New England Patriots in place of Mac Jones and it immediately signaled a change in approach from New England. It showed that Bill Belichick had lost faith in his erstwhile starter to arrest the alarming slump in form that has them sitting 2-10.
And the results were there on the field. Bailey Zappe threw for three touchdowns before the two-minute warning in the first half. They took a 21-10 lead into half-time. The 97 yards they had in the first quarter were the most since Tom Brady left. It is safe to say that he is going to get chances in the games going forward too.
Here's a look at what happened to Mac Jones and what it means for him going forward:
Mac Jones' future in doubt as Patriots QB benched
Mac Jones has been benched for the end of a third of the games the Patriots have played this season. Last week against the LA Chargers, they did not score a single point, which was the second time this season they have failed to get on the board.
In fact, looking at their entire season, there is just one game where they have scored above 21 points, the same that Bailey Zappe threw in the first half against the Steelers. That came in a divisional game against the Buffalo Bills. That was in the third week of October. Since then, they have not scored 20 points in a single game. And in each of the last three games before today, they did not touch 10 points.
That is reflected in Mac Jones' stats as well. He has 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He averaged 192.7 yards per game. A touchdown of less than one per game and not even getting 200 passing yards in the modern NFL is not sustainable. And that is why he needed to be benched.
What happens to him going forward will depend, but a third-year quarterback with such a record would generally need a change of scenery to bounce back. Irrespective of whatever happens, the Patriots will finish with a losing record and pick toward the top of the NFL draft. This year sees a deep quarterback class and the Patriots can pick one of them.
If Bailey Zappe shows potential towards the end of the season in the final five games, he can be given the chance to stay on beyond this season as well. In either case, whether Bill Belichick plumps for continuity with a current player or decides to start anew, Mac Jones is on the outside looking in. It marks a stunning reversal from when he was named the starter to begin this season and Bailey Zappe was placed on the practice squad.
Mac Jones not helped by Patriots coaching disarray
Mac Jones has not been helped by Bill Belichick and his constant doubts about the quarterback. He has also not thrived under a constantly changing cast of offensive play-callers. In 2021, as a rookie, he made the Pro Bowl and finished runner-up in the Offensive Rookie of the Year stakes. He had Josh McDaniels as his playcaller that year.
Last year, he regressed under a combination of Matt Patricia calling plays and leading the offensive charge with Joe Judge. This year, he has not improved under Bill O'Brien. Many of his struggles might be the quarterback's fault but he has not been helped by having to learn a new type of play every year.
If his time with the Patriots is over, he can still get a chance somewhere else. But he might not become a starter straight away and have to work his way back from the wilderness years in New England. But it is not impossible, as someone like Geno Smith with the Seattle Seahawks will only be too happy to inform.