The dawn of the end for Mac Jones in New England seemed to emerge in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday when he was replaced by Bailey Zappe late in the Patriots' disappointing 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Now, there are rumblings that Jones may even be demoted to the third-string position behind both Zappe and Will Grier, as shared by Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show.
According to Curran, "Mac Jones is likely to be benched. I think he'll probably be relegated to third-string. Will Grier will be promoted, and the player who finished the game the other day, Bailey Zappe, will also be elevated."
Although I don't possess insider information on this matter, I would say that Will Grier will receive the opportunity to start, and if he fails to impress, then Zappe will assume the starting role while Grier becomes the backup. This would be the approach for the remainder of the season in an attempt to preserve the team's culture.
Sitting at a disappointing 2-8 record, the Patriots currently reside at the bottom of the AFC. They have a much-needed bye week ahead before returning to face the New York Giants on Sunday, November 26th.
Jones, who rose to prominence as a standout at Alabama, initially displayed immense promise in 2021. He earned a Pro Bowl selection, came in second place in the Associated Press Rookie of the Year race, and even led the Patriots to a playoff berth. However, things have taken a downward turn since then, although it is important to note that Jones hasn't necessarily been provided with the ideal circumstances to thrive.
Throughout Jones' three seasons, the Patriots' offense has gone through various leadership changes, with the most recent being the 2022 duo of defensive-minded coaches in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, who specializes in special teams. Additionally, New England has struggled to assemble a roster brimming with explosive talent, particularly in the wide receiver position. The team has encountered consistent issues with players failing to create separation or execute big plays down the field. Moreover, they no longer possess elite tight ends like Rob Gronkowski or reliable possession receivers like Julian Edelman, who were once known for their ability to make crucial plays.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that Jones himself has not performed admirably. This season, he has averaged just one touchdown per game played (10), replicating the numbers from last year (14). Furthermore, he has thrown an equal number of interceptions as touchdowns in 2023, and his pass yards per attempt (6.3), yards per game (203.1), and quarterback rating (80.2) have all hit career lows. In fact, Jones currently ranks as the seventh-worst quarterback in the NFL based on his quarterback rating.
During Sunday's game, Jones made a costly mistake when he threw a red-zone interception straight into the hands of the Colts' Justin Blackmon during the Patriots' second-to-last drive. Zappe took over in the subsequent possession. Now, it appears plausible that this interception may symbolize Jones' final pass as a Patriot for this season, capping off a challenging 10 games for everyone involved in the New England organization.