For the second straight season, Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe has become a hot topic in New England.
Jones was replaced by Zappe in the second half of Sunday's 34-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The third-year quarterback's woeful performance came one week after he committed three turnovers -- two resulting in defensive touchdowns -- in a 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He was replaced by Zappe late in that game as well.
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Zappe didn't do anything special in either appearance, but Jones has been bad enough to leave some wondering whether it would be wise to make Zappe the starter going forward. With only three points scored over the last two weeks, it couldn't get much worse for the Patriots' offense.
Our Michael Holley, Tom E. Curran, and Ted Johnson shared their thoughts on the Jones vs. Zappe debate on Patriots Postgame Live.
"You take Mac Jones out of there, let's say Bailey Zappe can actually walk the football over to his playmakers without anybody getting in the way," Holley said. "Who are you giving the ball to? I think that's part of the issue too.
"Mac is maybe compounding the issue, but I think the fundamental issue is you're throwing to Ty Montgomery, and Rhamondre (Stevenson) doesn't look like himself, and DeVante Parker, and JuJu was out of the game, and Kendrick Bourne. This is such a mediocre collection of playmakers."
Curran agrees Jones' supporting cast hasn't helped his cause, but there is no excuse for the constant self-inflicted wounds.
"You could say, 'OK, that's not Mac's fault and he has nobody to throw it to.' And I've said that a million times because of the protection," Curran said. "But that being the case, that being his fact of life, you have to behave in a way that understands that, which means don't make that first mistake, or don't make the mistake you made last week, or don't throw it across the field, or don't come out in the second half on fourth-and-2 and get picked.
"So that's why I say, even though Mac Jones will forever be better than Bailey Zappe, he's so much in his own head that you can't continue to walk him out there and give yourself a chance to win. If you were a teammate of Mac Jones right now, as much as you might like him, would you support the idea of seeing him out there on Wednesday taking the first-team reps?"
Johnson answered Curran's question from a former player's perspective.
"It all depends how he is behind the scenes," the former Patriots linebacker said. "Do I feel like he's invested? Do I feel like he's doing everything he needs to do? Do I see him here early, or do I see him late? Do I feel like he's engaged in practice? Does it look like it matters to him? Does he care? Those are all things that you see when the cameras aren't on."
For what it's worth, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seemed to confirm Jones will remain the starter next week when they visit the Las Vegas Raiders.
"Yeah," Belichick answered when asked whether Jones was still his QB. "There was a lot of problems. It certainly wasn't all on him."
Belichick may have put an end to the speculation, but the Jones-Zappe debate undoubtedly will continue until the Patriots' offense shows signs of life.
Watch our Postgame Live crew's full reaction to the Patriots' loss to the Saints below: