It was a strange night for the Patriots, in more ways than one. And they’ll now be picking up the pieces on a short week before the first of two 2022 meetings with the resurgent Jets.
Quarterback Mac Jones started. After an interception, he was benched for Bailey Zappe. The rookie gave the team a spark, but it was short-lived. He threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Along the way, Belichick told Lisa Salters of ESPN that it was the plan all along to play both quarterbacks, and that Mac Jones would be back at some point in the second half. He wasn’t.
Through it all, the New England defense had no answer for the Chicago offense, which had nearly as many rushing yards (243) as the Patriots had total yards (260).
So now the question becomes who will be the quarterback going forward. As defensive back Devin McCourty told reporters after the game, the quarterback won’t matter if the defense gives up 33 points, as it did tonight.
Coach Bill Belichick was inevitably asked who the starting quarterback is.
“We just finished the game,” he said in response to that question. He added that the health of Mac Jones was a factor in the decision to not put him back in the game. And Belichick denied that the removal of Jones after an interception was a benching for performance.
Belichick added that Jones was aware he would play only part of the game. Belichick added that Jones would have re-entered in the second half, if the score hadn’t gotten out of hand.
As to the possibility that the team will rotate starting quarterbacks, Belichick said he doesn’t see that happening. He said tonight’s approach was “the best thing to do” based on “the situation.”
What about the situation?
“The whole situation,” Belichick said.
The whole situation for the Patriots is that they’re 3-4. As Belichick said, they played “poorly” in all phases, and that they have “a lot of work to do.”
Indeed they do. For the first time in a long time, the Jets will be ready to give them everything they can handle.