Videos by OutKick
To say that there is a quarterback controversy in New England would be inaccurate. To say that there are questions surrounding the position would be fair.
There is a slight nuance between those two sentences, but in some ways, they say the same thing. The Patriots have two viable options at the most important position in football.
Bill Belichick, in his 24th year with the organization, would agree.
He left the door open for competition during training camp. However, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt for now.
Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe both spent time as the starter last season. Their dynamic in 2023 is very different than the typical relationship between a starter and a backup. They both believe they deserve an opportunity this fall and Belichick said on Tuesday morning that either guy could win the job.
Well, he didn’t say that explicitly. Rather, Belichick left the door open with some classic coach speak when asked whether there is an open competition between Jones and Zappe.
Everybody’s out here competing. All 90 guys. That’s what we’re all here for, to compete. Everybody’s out here competing. That’s what everybody’s doing.— Bill Belichick
Thus, if “everybody is competing,” Zappe and Jones are competing. There is a competition.
How real is the New England Patriots QB competition?
Jones, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, was a Pro Bowler as a rookie and completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to a 10-7 record. 2022 did not go as well.
Not only did Jones miss time due to injury, during which rookie phenom Bailey Zappe made his case for the starting job by electrifying the nation, he struggled. The former Alabama signal-caller saw his completion percentage drop by more than two percent, threw just 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions, and won only six of 14 games to miss out on the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Zappe burst onto the scene after breaking the NCAA’s single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns during an incredible year at Western Kentucky. He completed 70.7% of his passes for 781 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions and went 2-2.
A losing record certainly did not help.
To make matters worse, there was reportedly some disgruntlement between Jones and Belichick. It largely stemmed from the head coach’s decision to let Matt Patricia lead the offense.
All of that is in the past. It’s a new season.
Belichick said on Tuesday that there is no beef with Jones.
I think my relationship is good with every player.— Bill Belichick
That does not mean that he is willing to name a starter right now. Zappe is still in the picture.
With that being said, Jones is the guy right now. To call it a true open competition would be a stretch as of right now because Zappe has yet to see significant reps with the first team offense.
Jones has been the guy thus far.
Until Zappe mixes in more prominently with the first team offense, it’s hard to buy into the idea that a battle is being had between he and Jones. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a chance—
But Jones is the guy. For now, at least.