If you were on the fence about Mac Jones heading into Week 4, his poor performance vs. the Dallas Cowboys may have been enough to convince you he isn't the right quarterback to lead the New England Patriots.
The Patriots' 38-3 loss marked the worst performance of Jones' career and the largest margin of defeat in Bill Belichick's 29 years as an NFL head coach. Jones tossed two interceptions (one pick-six) and had a strip-sack returned for a touchdown before being replaced by backup QB Bailey Zappe late in the third quarter.
🔊 Patriots Talk: For Mac Jones, the path back to Belichick's favor? First, do no harm | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube
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Our Patriots insider Tom E. Curran was willing to give Jones a pass prior to Sunday's embarrassing showing. But as the turnovers continue to pile up, he's beginning to have his own doubts about the third-year signal-caller.
"I was able to live with the noodle arm and the mild tantrums and the occasional nut shot because McCorkle was a guy who didn't make bad things worse," Curran said on Tuesday's episode of Quick Slants. "A high floor. That's what I'd say. There's a lot to be said for that kind of guy. But our guy, he came undone in a critical game on the road, and he helped put the Patriots in a hole, and then he just kept on digging.
"1-3 is a surprise to nobody, and Mac was actually pretty good in those losses to the Eagles and Dolphins. The only caveat to those performances for him were the turnovers that he was responsible for. The easiest path to a win on Sunday was just taking care of the ball, and Jones actively put it at risk in the most mind-bending ways possible. This wasn't just a bad day. It was aggravated assault on the quarterback position and Mac's own reputation. If you can't trust him to be smart, then what are you left with?"
Zappe didn't make much noise in relief of Jones. He completed four of his nine passes for 57 yards and didn't lead a scoring drive, though he avoided turning the ball over.
Curran doesn't have Zappe Fever, but he acknowledged that the 2022 fourth-rounder may do a better job of limiting the self-inflicted wounds that have haunted Jones and the Patriots over the first four weeks.
"I had a moment of clarity today talking on my podcast with the great Taylor Kyles," Curran added. "There's no planet on which Bailey Zappe is better than Mac, but he can at least live by that Hippocratic Oath that doctors do: "First, do no harm." And Mac's taken to actively harming his team. Mac's got fingerprints on the murder weapon in all three of the Patriots' losses. Zappe is not going to give the Patriots a better chance to win, but because he may not do something to cause them to lose, he might be preferential to Mac in some cases.
"Before Sunday, there was a big Mac camp that said -- and I was part of it -- 'Look, he's not great, but he's certainly not that bad either.' We could deal with the pop gun arm, and the fall-away throws, and the nut slaps, and the tripping, and the faces. Just don't actively lose the game and melt down to the point you look like you wanna get pulled. But Sunday happened."
Barring any surprises, Jones will start under center and look to bounce back this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The Patriots are favored in the matchup at Gillette Stadium, but after faltering against star linebacker Micah Parsons and the Cowboys, Jones will be tested again with another disruptive defender in Cameron Jordan licking his chops.
Sunday's game against the Saints (2-2) kicks off at 1 p.m. ET.
Watch the full episode of Quick Slants below: