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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick still non-committal on Mac Jones

Bailey Zappe continues to make case

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
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Bill Belichick still won’t show his hand with respect to his starting quarterback.

In wake of Sunday’s win over the Browns, and Bailey Zappe continuing to impress under center, the Patriots head coach was asked on a video call Monday morning if Mac Jones would regain his starter’s job once he gets healthy.

Belichick dodged the question, which was a familiar refrain from last week.

“We’ll see how that process is,” Belichick answered. “Mac still wasn’t able to play yesterday. We’ll continue to evaluate him and see how he’s doing physically.”

Jones was the starter last year in his rookie year, as well as the opening three games prior to getting injured, so it’s curious that Belichick won’t just say he has the job when he is deemed ready to play. Perhaps it’s some kind of motivational ploy. Or, there’s more to it.

Jones was listed as “questionable” on the injury report with his high ankle sprain, and made the trip before being ruled out just before the game. So he’s getting closer.

Belichick was also asked about Jones being named the starter if and when he’s healthy during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” He answered by saying Jones was not “an option” to play Sunday against the Browns.

Was Zappe, who has now won two straight games, competing for Mac’s job?

Belichick once again avoided the question.

“Look, it’s every player’s job to be ready to go,” he said. “That’s their job. Mac wasn’t active yesterday, so there’s nothing to really talk about.”

The expectation is for Jones, the team’s first round pick and 15th overall last year, to start when he’s healthy enough.

Zappe, meanwhile, has done a very good job since taking over with both Jones and Brian Hoyer (concussion) out with injury.

He led the Patriots past the Browns in impressive fashion Sunday, completing 24 of 34 passes for 309 yards with two touchdowns during the 38-15 win. He hit eight different receivers in the process.

“He’s getting better at the little things,” Belichick said when talking about the growth the rookie has shown since coming on in relief against the Packers. “They’re important to make big things happen. There’s still a long way to go, a lot to learn, a lot of things we can improve on at every position and collectively as an offense.”

During the video session with reporters, Belichick wouldn’t say if the offense was simplified, and made less complex to help Zappe, a fourth-round pick. But it was implied.

“We always try to do what we feel like gives us the best chance to win, and gives our team the most success,” said Belichick. “We’ll always do that. I don’t think that’ll ever change no matter who’s playing or who we’re playing or anything else . . . it’s not about one player, necessarily, it’s about being able to do what you need to do as a team to competitively play and win on the field.”

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