Curran: ‘The ship has sailed’ for Mac Jones in New England originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots once again had a disappointing Sunday, falling 10-6 to the Indianapolis Colts. Now standing at 2-8, the season is all but over for the Patriots, meaning it’s time to get some new players on the field — starting at quarterback.
Mac Jones added to what has already been a nightmare season, throwing for only 170 yards and a late-game red zone interception. After Jones threw his league-leading 10th INT on the season, head coach Bill Belichick decided he had seen enough, benching him in favor of Bailey Zappe.
After getting the ball back with just under two minutes remaining in the game, Zappe began his march down the field, only to seal the Patriots’ fate by throwing another interception into what the broadcasters called “a team meeting of Colts players.”
Now going into their bye week, the Patriots will have some time to make tough personnel decisions to figure out who will take the field in their Nov. 26 matchup against the New York Giants, which they have already begun doing with the release of cornerback Jack Jones.
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Patriots insiders Tom E. Curran, Phil Perry, and Tom Giles discussed some of the possible changes that need to be made, specifically at quarterback, on NBC Sports Boston’s Early Edition.
“I don’t want to get into the whole ‘Bailey Zappe vs. Mac Jones’ quarterback room,” Curran said. “Mac Jones will be better than Bailey Zappe, will have a better career than Bailey Zappe, will have a better career than Will Grier, it’s just not going to happen here [in New England].”
Jones’ production has declined since his rookie year, where he received a Pro Bowl nod and finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Jones has thrown for 2,031 yards on a 65.4 percent completion rate with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
To Curran’s point, Jones likely will be the most successful quarterback out of those currently rostered, but it’s looking like that won’t happen here.
“That ship has sailed,” Curran said of Jones. “Pull him out. See what you have in Grier, see what you have in Zappe, find a way to the end of the season, cut who you have to, and then move on.”
Zappe has already logged three games this season, connecting on 10-26 attempts for 104 yards and an interception. Grier, however, has yet to see the field since the Patriots added him to their active roster back on Sep. 21.
While Grier hasn’t done too much since being drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, he was electric this past preseason for the Dallas Cowboys, where he threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 53 yards and two more TDs in just one game.
“If you’re going to hang on to any sort of culture whatsoever, you have to make the change,” Giles added. “It’s only fair to everyone else on the team to make the change at this point. He [Jones] has lost confidence in himself and he’s lost confidence in everybody else at this point, you can just see it.”
Between getting chewed out by offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien on live TV and looking visibly defeated following the game-ending interception, Jones looks to be left without an ounce of confidence in himself or the team.
“They are at the stage of the year where you’re basically in the middle of one big fact-finding mission for a variety of different players,” Perry said. “There is really no reason not to see what you have in Will Grier. He’s a guy that hasn’t really gotten to practice enough to show the team what he can do. You have the bye week, you have the week leading up to the Giants game, give him a few more reps, give whoever is not playing all that much, whether it’s Marte Mapu or Kayshon Boutte or whoever else, at this stage of the season you are 2-8, what do you have to lose than to find out what you have in these guys?”
Mapu, a 6-foot-3, 217-pound linebacker, was drafted by the Patriots with a third-round pick. He has yet to see any meaningful time outside of special teams, only playing in 22 percent of the defensive snaps.
Boutte, a once highly touted prospect out of LSU, saw the field against the Colts in Week 10 for the first time since Week 1, only logging five targets across the two games. Given the chance, he could live up to the hype he once had, where he logged 1,782 yards on 131 catches for 16 touchdowns across 27 games in his college career.
New England fans can stay hopeful changes to the starting lineup are on the way with the next game being on Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET against the also struggling 2-8 Giants.