Bill Belichick: Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe will get chance to play QB for Patriots


Since basically early last season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has declined every invitation given by the media to declare that Mac Jones is entrenched as New England’s starting quarterback.

He did so throughout Jones’ ankle injury last season, which opened the door for rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe to play relatively well in four games of action including a pair of starts.

Belichick also had a strange answer regarding Jones during his end-of-season press conference following the season finale loss to the Bills, the coach saying only that his former first-round QB “has the ability to play quarterback in this league.”

Monday morning at the AFC coaches’ breakfast at the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix, Belichick remained rather vague and non-committal when asked if Jones had a hold on the Patriots starting QB job heading into 2023.

“Everybody will get a chance to play. We’ll play the best players,” Belichick said.

That obviously opens the door for the idea that New England will have a quarterback competition this summer, a door that Belichick did not close.

“Everybody will get a chance to play,” Belichick repeated, before going on to clarify that he feels the same way about all positions.

“Every position. Everybody will get a chance to play. Everybody that’s on our roster, if they earn the opportunity to play then, based on what they do in practice and all that, then they’ll get an opportunity to play.
Certainly veteran players who’ve been on the team before, if they are still on the team, will all get an opportunity to play.”

Many outsiders presume that the hiring of Bill O’Brien as the New England offensive coordinator should be a significant benefit for Jones, who excelled as a rookie under Josh McDaniels guidance in 2021 but regressed mightily under the tutelage of novice offensive minds Matt Patricia and Joe Judge last season.

“Bill’s a good coach. I think he’ll help any position,” Belichick agreed simply.

Anything beyond that, well Belichick wasn’t offering up much at the annual media breakfast.

Nothing much in regards to Jones’ disappointing sophomore season.

“Well as a team we didn’t perform very well last year. So we all need to do a better job. That’s all of us,” Belichick said.

And certainly nothing on the widely-held belief that Jones’ on-field outbursts directed toward the New England sideline and coaches may have, as NBC Sports Boston described it, “made an enemy of the head coach.”

“We’re looking ahead to 2023 here. I’m not going to go back and rehash ’22,” Belichick concluded.

After listening to Belichick talk about his quarterback situation in March, don’t be surprised if 2023 in New England includes Jones having to compete for his job and earn every snap he is going to get.

“I think we all can improve. All of us. Starting with me and every other player and coaches. That’s for all of us,” Belichick said.

Mac Jones very much included.

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