The Patriots coaching staff returned to work Sunday determined to fix what’s been ailing their 2-8 team.
Chief among their list of problems is poor quarterback play.
Mac Jones was benched for a third time this season in the Pats’ latest loss, a 10-6 defeat to the Colts in Germany. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said Monday picking a starter for this weekend’s game against the Giants will fall to head coach Bill Belichick. He also indicated Belichick has yet to make that decision.
“For me, I basically get everybody ready to play … And so at the end of the day, Bill (Belichick) will make that decision at some point, and we’ll go from there,” O’Brien told reporters Monday via video conference. “But I do believe that we have to continue like we do all the time to earn it on the practice field, coaches and players.”
O’Brien declined to share what his recommendation would. He did, however, say there should be enough reps in practice to stage a two-quarterback competition for the starting job. Bailey Zappe, who took over for Jones at the end of the Colts loss, third-string veteran Will Grier and undrafted rookie Malik Cunnigham are the Pats’ other options to start Sunday.
“One of the reasons why I really enjoy coaching here is you have to earn it on a practice field,” O’Brien said. “I think the way that we practice here, there’s plenty of reps to go around. I mean, can you do it with four guys? Three guys? No. But for two guys, there’s enough reps to go around. Everybody gets a shot at it. I don’t that’s a that’s an issue at all.”
This season, Zappe has completed 10 of 25 passes for 104 yards and an interception this season in mop-up time. Grier hasn’t taken a regular-season snap since 2019. Cunningham was active for the Pats’ Week 6 loss at Las Vegas, where he served as Jones’ lone backup and took six offensive snaps.
Meanwhile, Jones ranks in the bottom 10 by virtually every metric among starting quarterbacks and is tracking for career worsts across most statistical categories. He’s completed 65.4% of his passes for 2,031 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Asked about Jones’ play in Germany, where he threw a crippling red-zone interception in the fourth quarter, O’Brien said all of his struggles are “fixable.”
“I think at times Mac’s played really well. I think that’s what we have to remember: at times this year, Mac has played really well,” O’Brien said. And I also think that it’s really important to point out that there’s 10 other guys on the field, and everybody’s gotta play better. And there’s coaches on the sideline, we all have to coach better. That’s the truth.
He continued: “I don’t believe in yips or anything like that. Mac has played well, Mac will play well again. Like Bill (Belichick) always says, and I totally agree with this, we believe in the guys that we have on this team at every position. And like I said, guys have to practice well, and we have to coach better.”
The Patriots will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week around the Thanksgiving holiday.