It's fair to wonder how many times the New England Patriots will watch Mac Jones turn the ball over and fail to execute before they say enough is enough.
Jones played poorly in Sunday's lackluster 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany, and he was particularly bad late in the game.
The third-year quarterback had tight end Mike Gesicki wide open in the end zone with 4:24 remaining in the fourth quarter and threw the ball way short. The result was an interception by Colts safety Julian Blackmon.
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Jones was benched after that turnover, which resulted in backup Bailey Zappe entering the game for the Patriots' final possession under two minutes.
After another back-breaking turnover and an inability to execute at a high level late in a winnable game, have we seen the last of Jones as New England's starting quarterback?
"Mac Jones throwing an interception with the opportunity to win this game and he makes his worst throw of the season, and there are a lot to choose from," our Patriots insider Phil Perry said on NBC Sports Boston's Postgame Live. "But this, given the stakes, given where they're at in the season, given what ownership said before the game, and given how far he missed -- he had about a 13-yard window to loft that ball into and couldn't do it. (He was) picked off, game over and maybe Mac Jones' career as a Patriot is over."
The Patriots have seemed hesitant to permanently move away from Jones as the starting quarterback this season despite his poor performances. Zappe isn't a great option, either. He failed to impress in training camp and the preseason, and he hasn't looked great in limited reps during the regular season. Perhaps it's time for the Patriots to give third-string QB Will Grier a chance to get the offense moving in the right direction.
"The entire second half was a total and complete disintegration by Mac Jones," Patriots insider Tom E. Curran added. "You had the flip as he was going down. You had the miss to Hunter Henry, you had the drive that went south and then a missed field goal, and then you had (the interception late in the game).
"But to have it happen at that juncture with Mac Jones again in a position to win the game and an open receiver with no pressure, I thought at the moment when it happened, after my body stopped twitching, that he probably wouldn't be back out. And the fact that he wasn't back out on the field makes me believe, not know, but believe, that the Patriots will look at another direction after the bye at quarterback."
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Jones has been subpar for two years now. In fairness, not all of the offense's struggles are his fault. The Patriots have done a poor job surrounding him with enough talent at the skill positions and the offensive line. But you can only watch so much bad football before a change absolutely has to happen.
"I think that right now, probably, trust is lost. I think all confidence in Mac Jones is probably futile right now," ex-Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson said. "Mac Jones, you clearly can see this guy has got zero confidence. I have to think that throw that he made at the end of the game was probably a lot of what's been happening to him all season long where his body gets sped up. I mean, he got sacked a season-high five times just in the first half. And so whenever he's under duress like that, it's very, very difficult for him to recover and to get his body to calm down and back on track.
"And so my feeling is most guys would probably, maybe not outwardly publicly say it, but personally and privately behind the scenes, would probably support a quarterback change at this point."
The good news for the Patriots is they have an extra week to figure out how to move forward at quarterback. New England has a Week 11 bye before returning to game action against the 2-7 New York Giants in Week 12.
Jones and Zappe have both played so poorly this season that it would make sense to give Grier a chance. And with an extra week of practice before the Giants matchup, this is a pretty good time to make a QB change.