Back in 2001, Bill Belichick scoffed at the notion of entering a game week without a clear-cut starting quarterback.
"I don't think you can really get two quarterbacks ready. I think you can get one ready and that is what we have to do," Belichick said at the time.
The New England Patriots head coach went against his own advice this week, and apparently left some people in Foxboro scratching their heads.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Belichick declined to name a starting QB as the Patriots prepared for their Week 12 matchup with the New York Giants, instead splitting reps evenly between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe to the point where players were still unaware who would start as late as Friday, per our Patriots insider Phil Perry.
MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE
While Jones eventually got the start Sunday, Perry reported Sunday on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Pregame Live that Belichick's QB plan didn't go over well with some in the organization.
"I spoke to several sources late on Friday who questioned Bill Belichick's process throughout all of this," Perry said, as seen in the video player above. "Because for an offense that obviously has struggled, how he handled the quarterback situation, they think, could impact the overall confidence level of that offensive unit, both for the quarterbacks themselves -- not to be chosen well ahead of this game today which one would be starting -- but also for the players and that huddle.
"Wouldn't you like to know if you're an offensive lineman who you're going to be blocking for? Wouldn't you like to know if you're a receiver who's going to be throwing you passes, especially when you're in an offense that is completely based around timing and rhythm?
"Clearly, that timing and rhythm has been off for the vast, vast majority of 2023, so for two quarterbacks to be splitting reps evenly throughout the course of the week of practice, going into a game, that's not necessarily going to help either the timing or the rhythm."
Perry reported Friday that offensive skill players had to "squeeze in additional reps" with both Jones and Zappe during practice this week to try to prepare for whatever decision Belichick made. But by forcing Jones and Zappe to split reps, Belichick put his QBs in a situation where neither would get the benefit of a "full" week of practice.
"You can steal reps whenever you'd like (during) special teams periods when the offensive scout team is out there -- and that's what the quarterbacks and the receivers tried to do this week -- but still, neither quarterback, in my opinion and in the opinion of some sources within the organization, is going to be fully prepared for this game because of the way the practice was handled," Perry said.
So, what was Belichick thinking with such a bizarre approach to the most important position in football? Sources told Perry that Belichick may have been trying to have an "honest" QB competition in practice, giving Jones and Zappe agency by letting them "battle it out" to determine who most deserves the starting job.
But the bottom line is that neither Jones, who entered Sunday with 10 interceptions in 10 games, or Zappe, who owns a 36.1 passer rating, is good enough to win games for the Patriots -- which is an indictment on Bill Belichick the general manager.
"If you're (team owner) Robert Kraft) or (team president) Jonathan Kraft ... I don't understand how you'd be able to look at this situation and have much confidence in the decision-making process going all the way back to the summer and just how this quarterback room was constructed, leaving you with the situation you're in today," Perry said.