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What is going on at quarterback with the New England Patriots?

Bill Belichick on decision to play both Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe in Patriots' loss to Bears
Bill Belichick on decision to play both Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe in Patriots' loss to Bears 00:56

FOXBORO -- The Patriots fell behind the Bears early on Monday night, and with the New England offense generating very little with Mac Jones at quarterback, the calls for Bailey Zappe began to echo in Gillette Stadium.

Those fans got their wish, with Zappe replacing Jones early in the second quarter. The rookie answered by leading the Patriots on a touchdown drive, hitting Jakobi Meyers for a 30-yard score, on his first drive of the game. 

We officially have a quarterback controversy in New England, just not in a good way. In addition to analyzing everything that went wrong in Monday night's 33-14 loss to the Bears, we'll now hear even more of the Mac vs. Zappe debate.

Bill Belichick didn't say who the starting quarterback will be moving forward. He said that the plan was to play both quarterbacks on Monday night, so that's what the Patriots did. Jones would have gone back in at some point, but the score got out of hand.

"It was the best thing to do based on the situation," Belichick said. "The whole situation."

"Coach Belichick had a really good plan for us. That is internal stuff but I understood the plan and what would happen," Jones said after the loss. "I wish we got off to a better start.

"There are no hard feelings. I wish I played better while I was in there, but hopefully I'll do that in practice and earn it back," Jones added. "We're all going to work together and put our best foot forward."

Belichick also said that there will be no platoon at quarterback. It's all very confusing, and however you cut it, the quarterback situation is kind of a mess in New England. Jones wasn't great Monday night, and Zappe returned to earth in the second half of the game. 

We'll see how Belichick cleans it up over the next few days, with a tough matchup against the 5-2 Jets coming up on Sunday. But if Jones wasn't healthy enough to play a complete game, why was he out there on a wet Monday night? 

Jones struggled in his three drives on Monday night, though issues with the offensive line played into that. But he was just 3-for-6 for 13 yards and his second-quarter interception, on a throw that had no chance at reaching Jonnu Smith down the sideline, was the last pass that he threw on the evening. 

It sounds like the plan was for Jones to play a few series and then make way for Zappe. Belichick said that the QB switch was not performance based, even though it came after Jones threw an interception.

"That is not what it was. But you can write whatever you want to write," he said. "That's not what it was."

Jones and his ankle looked pretty good as the QB ran for 24 yards on three carries, but the offense did very little when he was in the game. Zappe, however, came in and immediately led the Patriots on a scoring drive. He was a perfect 3-for-3 for 54 yards on that drive, after the offense had only 56 yards on Jones' two drives to start the game.

Zappe only had to throw one pass on his second drive: A deep 43-yard connection with DeVante Parker that set the Patriots up at the Chicago 7-yard line. That connection really got fans into the game, and a few plays later, Rhamondre Stevenson rushed it in to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead.

The Patriots offense scored two touchdowns in less than four minutes with Zappe running the show. However, that was all the scoring the Patriots would do, ultimately losing 33-14 in an embarrassing showing on Monday Night Football.

But that spurt under Zappe was a much different operation than the offense that initially took the field for New England. Chicago jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the Patriots picked up their first first down of the evening, which initially prompted the chants for Zappe.

After Chicago won the opening coin toss and deferred, Jones' first drive since Week 3 didn't amount to much. A Stevenson draw on first down went nowhere, and after the two teams had offsetting penalties on New England's first second-and-10 play, Stevenson lost a yard on their second attempt. Facing a third-and-11, Jones took off and looked good on his scamper, but was brought down after picking up six yards, forcing the Patriots to punt away their first possession.

New England punted away their second possession as well, with a Trent Brown false start (his third penalty of the opening quarter) turning a manageable third-and-5 into a third-and-10. Stevenson picked up only five yards on his third-down run, and the Pats punted away again.

The Bears marched down the field and scored a touchdown on a three-yard run by quarterback Justin Fields to put the Patriots in a 10-0 hole.

The Patriots got their first first down on the following drive, with Jones moving the chains with his leg. The quarterback took off on a third-and-5 and scrambled for 10 yards. A few plays later, Jones delivered a laser pass to Hunter Henry over the middle of the field for 14 yards to close out the first quarter.

Jones finished the first quarter with more rushing yards (16) than passing yards (13). Then his second play of the second quarter was picked off, and his night was over.

Zappe didn't look like the guy who won both of his starts over the last two weeks. He finished 14-for-22 for 185 yards, a touchdown, and two second-half interceptions. 

"Gotta get better," said Zappe. "I can't fall off like I did. I have to make some throws and better decisions. That's the good thing about having another week, get back in tomorrow and get ready for next week."

It really didn't matter who was playing quarterback, as the New England defense was torched by Chicago. Things looked better when Zappe was in early, but then it was a mess throughout the second half. 

Mac still looked like he is pressing when out there. Zappe looked like a rookie as the Pats were shut out in the second half. Belichick now has a big decision to make. 

He probably won't say much about the matter over the next six days, but we'll be hearing plenty about the QB controversy in New England leading up to Sunday's game against the Jets.

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