Bill Belichick’s Patriots pull Mac Jones back in big loss

Mike ReeseESPN staff writerOctober 8, 2023 at 03:56 PM ET3 minutes to read

Mac Jones sat on the bench during the poor performance against the Saints

Mac Jones is benched for Bailey Zappe after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.

Foxborough, Massachusetts – New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was pulled from a big loss for the second straight week, as coach Bill Belichick turned to backup Billy Zappe with 13:03 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 34-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Patriots were trailing 31-0 at the time of the switch.

Last week, Jones was pulled by Belichick with 3:41 left in the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys, with the team trailing 31-3. Belichick later said he didn’t see any point in leaving Jones in the game, but he will start in Week 5 at home against the Saints.

Jones’ control of raw work numbers became a hot topic again this week after he finished 12 of 22 for 110 yards with two interceptions against the Saints.

When pressed after the game, Belichick said Jones remains his top option at quarterback.

“Yes,” Belichick said. “There were a lot of problems. It certainly wasn’t all on him.”

The first interception came midway through the first quarter when Jones was hit by defensive end Carl Granderson while trying to throw a short pass to running back Ramondre Stephenson. The ball fluttered in the air to defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Saints lead.

Turnovers were a big problem for Jones, who lost a fumble on an ill-advised scramble against the Cowboys that was returned for a touchdown, and also threw an interception across the field that was returned for an interception.

Since becoming a starter for the Patriots as a rookie in 2021, Jones has had six interceptions returned for touchdowns, tying him with Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford for the most in the NFL during that span.

Jones is 105 of 168 for 1,008 yards on the season, with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Instability and inconsistency on the offensive line didn’t help his cause, as the Patriots were one of only three teams playing four different lineups on the line through the first four weeks of the season. Patriots receivers also entered Sunday averaging the least amount of separation from targets (3.1 yards), according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

The Patriots visit the Las Vegas Raiders next Sunday.

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