The New England Patriots will start Mac Jones at quarterback against the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's Week 5 game at Gillette Stadium, but it does sound like the team is at least preparing for the possibility that a change could be made if needed.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Sunday morning that backup quarterback Bailey Zappe received increased reps in practice this past week.
“No change is considered likely or imminent at this point," Pelissero said on NFL Gameday Kickoff. "But worth noting here, Zappe did get increased practice reps this week.”
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Jones played arguably the worst game of his career in last week's 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The third-year QB completed just 12 of 21 pass attempts for 150 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of his three turnovers -- a fumble and an interception in the second quarter -- were returned for touchdowns by Dallas' defense.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick removed Jones from the game in the third quarter and put in Zappe. The offense didn't fare any better with Zappe in there.
Perhaps the most interesting thing Pelissero said during that segment was about a flaw from Jones that other teams observed while watching the film of the Patriots-Cowboys matchup.
“Mac played pretty well out of the gate this season,” Pelissero said. “He does not have a lot of time to throw. He does not have a go-to receiver. But other teams who watched the tape from the Cowboys game say Mac’s eyes are down. He is looking at the rush. It’s impossible to play on-time, efficient football like that.”
The Patriots offensive line has failed to pass protect at a high level on a consistent basis. Jones, as a result, has been under pressure a lot. New England's wide receivers also have failed to create enough separation and give Jones a good enough window to fit the ball into.
But there's no question Jones needs to play a lot better, and that starts with protecting the football. Jones has committed six turnovers in four games. The Patriots don't have enough offensive firepower to overcome those kinds of mistakes, especially against quality opponents.
Jones hasn't been put in a great spot, but if he doesn't play better against the Saints, the Patriots would be wise to keep all their options open at the quarterback position -- especially if he can't correct the mistakes he made against Dallas.