In Sunday’s 10-6 defeat against the Indianapolis Colts at Frankfurt Stadium, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones faced a crucial moment when he threw a fourth-quarter interception. Coach Bill Belichick opted for a change, replacing Jones with backup Bailey Zappe and leaving just 1:52 on the clock.
Speaking after the game, Belichick explained, “I thought it was time for a change.” Jones’ benching has stirred speculation about his future as the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. While he had been substituted in two earlier games against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, those decisions were made when the outcomes were largely decided.
This situation was different. The Patriots, starting from their 14-yard line, had an opportunity to orchestrate a game-winning drive. However, Zappe’s subsequent interception dashed their comeback aspirations.
When asked about the quarterback position going forward, Belichick deflected, saying, “We’ll worry about next week next week. The game just got over.” The Patriots, with a 2-8 record, are heading into a bye week.
Reflecting on his performance, Jones acknowledged, “I’ve played well in my career before, but not right now. It’s peaks and valleys. I’m kind of in a valley right now. I just have to bounce back.”
The pivotal interception occurred as New England was driving towards a potential go-ahead touchdown, reaching the Colts’ 15-yard line. Jones’ pass, intended for a receiver, fell short and was intercepted by safety Julian Blackmon with 4:24 remaining. Jones described it as a “terrible throw” and accepted responsibility, stating, “I have to play better and not even be in that situation.”
Jones, informed on the sideline that he wouldn’t be returning to the game, expressed the difficulty of the situation but emphasized his desire for the team to win. He finished the game 15-of-20 for 170 yards with one interception and endured five sacks.
For the season, Jones has thrown for 2,031 yards, completing 212 of 324 attempts with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has faced challenges, playing behind a makeshift offensive line and dealing with an underwhelming receiving corps.
Earlier in the game, Jones received criticism from offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien for attempting a risky underhand pass that fell incomplete. O’Brien animatedly discussed plays with Jones on the sideline, possibly pointing out open receivers.
Jones acknowledged the difficulty of playing in the NFL and recognized areas for improvement. When asked about Belichick’s belief in him, Jones admitted uncertainty, saying, “To make people believe, you have to be better. I’m not sure. I don’t know.” Despite the challenges, Jones affirmed his self-belief and assured that a post-game X-ray was just for a bruise, stating, “I’m good.”