New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick avoided a reporter’s question Wednesday regarding whether Mac Jones would be the team’s starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
The Patriots (7-7) come into Week 16 just outside of the AFC playoff picture and have three tough games against conference opponents currently in the postseason field ahead of them. Following their Saturday home game against the Cincinnati Bengals (10-4), New England will host the Miami Dolphins (8-6) on New Year’s Day and face the Buffalo Bills (11-3) on the road on Jan. 8 to close the regular season.
The question on Jones’ future comes three days after the Patriots suffered one of the most bizarre and embarrassing losses in recent NFL history, with former New England defensive end Chandler Jones capping the Las Vegas Raiders’ win with a ferocious stiff arm to the Pats signal-caller. The lasting image from New England’s Week 15 loss will be Mac Jones being shoved into the turf, but the ill-fated laterals from running back Rhamondre Stevenson and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers were more to blame for the disastrous ending.
Though Jones shouldn’t take the burden for the final play against Las Vegas, his sophomore NFL season has still been a huge step back from his Pro Bowl rookie campaign. The Alabama product’s numbers were especially poor against the Raiders, as his completion percentage (41.9%) was a season-low and his completions (13), passing yards (112) and quarterback rating (52.1) were all season-worst numbers, aside from Week 7 when he played just 18 snaps.
Jones missed three contests earlier this season with an ankle injury, and thanks to solid play from rookie Bailey Zappe during his absence, Jones had to battle his way back for the starting job. In 11 games this year, the 24-year-old has posted a 65.8% completion percentage for 2,310 passing yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Earlier this week, Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown was caught “liking” an Instagram post that shared an ESPN article that suggested New England could look into bringing back Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason to replace Jones as the starting quarterback. Jones’ next chance to try and improve his grasp on the starting gig will come when the host the Bengals at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.