The New England Patriots have struggled in 2023, holding the worst record in the AFC. Sitting at 2-10, the team is nearing elimination from the playoffs.
Amidst the struggling team is a struggling quarterback room. Starter Mac Jones has been benched in favor of second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe. Why was he benched?
Why Was Mac Jones Benched for Bailey Zappe?
Jones was drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Patriots. He spent his college career with the University of Alabama, where he won two national championships, one as a starter.
Since being drafted, Jones has played in 42 games for New England. In those games, he passed for 8,912 yards, 46 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. With Jones as the starter, the Patriots are 18-24.
In 2023, though, Jones has struggled. He has started 11 games, passing for 2,120 yards, 10 TDs, and 12 INTs. He was benched four times, most recently in Week 12, when he was benched at halftime against the New York Giants. Zappe was announced as the starter in Week 13.
Zappe was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He spent his college career at Houston Baptist and Western Kentucky. In his one season at Western Kentucky, he set records for 5,967 passing yards, 62 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
Since being drafted by the Patriots, Zappe has played in nine games. In those nine games, he passed for 1,080 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions. In 2023, he has played in five games, starting one. In them, he passed for 299 yards, zero scores, and two picks.
The Patriots are set to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. The Steelers are 7-5 on the season, holding on to a playoff spot. Zappe is expected to start. The Patriots finish the season facing the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets.
New England currently owns the second overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, only behind the Chicago Bears, who have the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick. If this stands, the Patriots would have the option to choose between Caleb Williams and Drake Maye for their quarterback of the future.
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