The New England Patriots exit their Week 11 bye with several major questions to answer. Perhaps the biggest is in regards to the team's starting quarterback with rumors going around that Mac Jones could be unseated by a backup like Bailey Zappe or Will Grier.
Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien spoke with the media on Monday following the time off, and his comments only highlighted Jones' shaky job security.
When directly asked about Jones being the team's starter, O'Brien skirted around the question, saying it's his responsibility to get "everybody ready to play." He said the decision around QB1 is to be determined, with Bill Belichick making the ultimate call.
It's difficult to view this as anything but New England preparing for a possible shakeup at quarterback. O'Brien had the chance to relay the team's confidence in Jones as the starter, but he instead talked about having everyone ready to step up. Squads with no-doubt guys under center never have to entertain the idea of an all-hands-on-deck approach.
O'Brien also saying the decision is Belichick's makes it clear that this situation is up in the air. If the team came out of the bye committed to Jones, they'd have said as much, as has been the case after previous games this season.
The former No. 15 overall pick has no one to blame but himself if he's demoted. He's taken a clear step back as a player in his third NFL season, with his dreadful decision-making actually costing the Patriots a chance at winning several games in 2023.
Jones' backward development casts a cloud over his pro future if he's not able to turn things around following the bye. It seems like he'll have a shot to win starting duties in practice still, but if he underperforms against an atrocious New York Giants team, this may truly be the end of his time in New England.
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