Has Mac Jones Played His Last Snap as a Patriot?

Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) watches
Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) watches / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

After a 21-18 win in Pittsburgh over the Steelers on Thursday Night Football, the energy (and perhaps relief) was palpable in the Patriots locker room. For the first time in 46 days, veteran captain Matthew Slater broke down the team with its trademark postgame win "aww, yeah!"

For one Patriot, yesterday's win in Pittsburgh might feel slightly more bittersweet. Has Mac Jones played his last snap as a New England Patriot?

Is Mac Jones Done in New England?

The Patriots have four games left on their schedule, and it is fair to assume that the organization feels that they have enough of a sample size from Jones to make a decision on his future (and the team's future at quarterback) this offseason. The team would presumably prefer to use the remaining games on the schedule to assess and evaluate Zappe.

The elephant in the room question is who will be making New England's personnel decisions this offseason? The overwhelming consensus is that Bill Belichick's time in Foxborough is coming to an end, and a decision on who will lead the next Patriots' football braintrust will have puissant ramifications on Jones' future. Outside of New England, Jones' first-round pedigree might still draw some suitors.

Since Bailey Zappe made his first career start in Week 5 of last season against the Detroit Lions, New England is 3-1 in games Zappe has started, while the Patriots are 7-14 in games started by Jones during that same stretch.

Zappe's performance in the Steel City also poked some holes in common defenses of Jones, especially the suggestion that Jones' struggles are a result of barren offensive weapons. Last night, Zappe took the field without New England's RB1 Rhamondre Stevenson and the team's three best receivers (Kendrick Bourne, Demario Douglas, and DeVante Parker) and came out with a win in a hostile road environment.

Even last season, conspiracy theories permeated that offensive play-caller Matt Patricia was putting Zappe in a better position to succeed, at least partly due to Jones drawing the ire of New England's coaching staff for reportedly going outside of the building to seek football advice. This season, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien would have no incentive to continue Patricia's supposed petty submarining of Jones.

Zappe received some emphatic votes of confidence from teammates postgame, especially from veterans Hunter Henry (who caught two touchdown passes) and Ezekiel Elliott (who was also on the receiving end of another touchdown from Zappe).

"Zap was balling tonight. He commands our attention in the huddle. … He was out there making the checks, making the points. He just had so much confidence, and the offense could definitely feel that."

Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott's comments definitely raised some eyebrows, as whether intentional or not, his praise of Zappe did (at least subliminally) suggest that maybe Jones lacks command of the offense and confidence that radiates to his offensive teammates.

For now, Mac Jones' future is up in the air in New England. There might be little left that Jones can do, his future appears to lie solely in the hands of Bailey Zappe.

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