Since suffering a high ankle sprain during Week 3’s 37-26 loss against the Baltimore Ravens, Mac Jones injury has healed and he’s ready to play against the Bears. In his absence, third-string rookie QB Bailey Zappe has filled in flawlessly and made a case for head coach Bill Belichick to name him the starter.
Over the course of three games, Zappe has posted an impressive stat line of 596 passing yards, four touchdowns, an interception, with a completion percentage of 72.9% and a QB rating of 111.4. However, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss Jones “expects to be available” for the Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears. Now that Mac Jones is healthy and reportedly ready to get back on the gridiron, Belichick is forced to make a decision between Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe, and the entire NFL is watching.
The Zappe Conundrum
Last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns proved to be Bailey Zappe’s best performance thus far in a Patriots uniform. The rookie quarterback threw for 309 yards, two touchdowns, had a completion percentage of 70.6%, and a career-high 118.4 QB rating. Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston reported that Zappe made history by becoming the first NFL player in history to record a win and a 100+ QB rating in each of his first two starts.
Bailey Zappe has made a name for himself in the early tenure of his NFL career, and certainly, he will want to keep that going for as long as possible. In reality, New England fans should feel extremely lucky that he has proved to be just as good (if not…better?) than starter Mac Jones. Competition is healthy for professional athletes. They feed off of being better than the other player in their position, it is the motivation that pushes their mental and physical state to the absolute limit. Even if Mac Jones does reclaim his starting spot, there is no doubt that Bailey Zappe will be itching to get his time in the spotlight back.
Mac Jones is Healthy, But Rushed Back Too Soon?
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that “there is no QB controversy,” in New England, and when Jones is able to return from his injury “he’ll be the starter.” If Jones is to be the starter once his high ankle sprain is fully healed, why take any chances against the Chicago Bears?
The Bears have suffered three straight losses and are sitting third in the NFC North. Dan Hanzus of NFL.com has put Chicago 29th in the NFL power rankings going into Week 7, and with New England sitting at 17th the matchup in Foxborough on Monday Night Football should be very winnable for the Patriots. If Mac Jones is healthy, then there is no reason to not play him. However, if Jones is “mostly” ready to go it would be more than foolish to start him when Zappe has been playing so well in his absence.
What could be more of an incentive for Jones to miss out on one more game is he would be certainly 100% for Week 8’s matchup away to the New York Jets. In Hanzus’ power ranking, the Jets are 13th and have won three straight games sitting at 4-2 and second in the AFC East.
Here lies the decision for Bill Belichick: Do you rest your starting QB one more week, making him possibly unsettled but fully healthy for a tougher matchup against the Jets? Or do you throw him into a very winnable game possibly too soon and risk aggravating his ankle injury? Whoever Belichick decides to start against the Bears, the NFL community will certainly have a reaction one way or another.
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What a great article.
So good to see this option for the Pats.