New England Patriots

Why Patriots should make Mac Jones inactive if Bailey Zappe starts

There's a case for keeping Mac Jones off the field entirely this Sunday.

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The New England Patriots appear ready to pull the plug on Mac Jones. So, why not go all the way in that decision?

All signs point to backup quarterback Bailey Zappe getting the start this Sunday for the Patriots' matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers. Our Phil Perry reported that Zappe took the first quarterback reps during the portion of Wednesday's practice open to the media. Malik Cunningham went under center after Zappe, per Perry, while Jones "continued to watch idly."

Late Wednesday night, The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported the Patriots are "preparing Zappe to start" this weekend. That might be the right call, considering Jones has thrown three interceptions in his last two games and been benched in favor of Zappe in back-to-back contests.

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer argued New England should take things one step further, however, and not even have Jones on the active roster against the Chargers.

"I don't think they should give him a jersey on Sunday," Breer said of Jones on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "I think Malik Cunningham, Will Grier, whoever you want to be the backup, have them be the backup."

Breer believes keeping Jones off the active roster in Week 13 actually would benefit the third-year QB in the long run.

"If the idea here is what's best for Mac Jones -- very clearly the guy has the yips," Breer said. "It looks like he needs to sit down and reset a little bit. So if you're gonna bench, the guy, don't give him a jersey.

"Teams make this mistake way too many times where they take the guy who needs to sit down and they make him the backup, and then all of a sudden the starter gets hurt and you're throwing the guy out there. You've defeated the purpose of the whole thing. So if the idea here is to sit down Mac Jones, make him pay for the last few weeks and give him a little bit of a reset, the right thing to do is to make him inactive on Sunday."

Seeing Jones on the inactive list this Sunday obviously would be a shock, and a symbol of his complete fall from grace after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. But considering how this season has gone for the 2021 first-round pick -- he's been benched for Zappe four times, is 2-9 as the team's starter and ranks 34th in the NFL in passer rating -- there's a case for giving him a full reset and letting him get away from the spotlight for at least one week.

"When you've got a guy who's under fire the way that Mac Jones is under fire right now, I think to some degree, you have to protect him," Breer said. "You have to show the rest of the team, 'Hey, I'm not gonna put the guy in a situation where I'm gonna throw him under the bus.'

"I actually think to some degree you're protecting him by naming Bailey Zappe the starter, because at that point, at least you end the storyline and he doesn't have to deal with it over the course of the week."

Whether head coach Bill Belichick feels the same as Breer remains to be seen, but at the very least, it sounds like Jones won't be on the field to start Sunday's 1 p.m. ET game against Los Angeles.

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