While the Patriots have undoubtedly been interesting to observe through the first two months of the 2022 season, they have not been easy to watch at some points. OK, at many points. Quarterback Mac Jones suffered a severe high ankle sprain in the last offensive drive of Week 3, and the team has not been the same since.
A quarterback controversy quickly emerged in New England. Third string rookie QB Bailey Zappe became New England’s starter during Jones’ recovery as Brian Hoyer sustained a concussion early in his first start for the Patriots.
Zappe ended up being just what the doctor ordered during Jones’ absence. With the rookie out of Western Kentucky at the helm, the Patriots shutout the Detroit Lions in week 5, along with steamrolling the Cleveland Browns 38-15 on the road in Week 6. As Zappe took over in Hoyer’s absence, the Patriots even kept up with veteran quarterback and Super Bowl champion Aaron Rodgers, falling to the Green Bay Packers by just one field goal in Zappe’s first ever NFL appearance in Week 4.
However, the good luck ran out with Jones’ return from his ankle injury. A Week 7 Monday Night Football matchup between the Patriots and the Chicago Bears saw the ugliest loss of the New England’s season so far. A frenzy began to stir among Patriots Nation as fans started chanting for Zappe early in the game. After just a couple of bad offensive series, Jones was benched and Zappe came in to take over. Despite going down the field for touchdowns in back-to-back series as soon and he came in, the rookie began to flounder. When all was said and done, the Patriots gave up 23 unanswered points throughout the game, falling 33-14.
The quarterback crisis continued to rage on, especially as it was revealed that members of the team were unaware of the plan to bring Zappe in and use two QBs against the Bears. Ultimately, Jones was named the starter against AFC East divisional rival New York Jets in Week 8. Luckily, the Patriots would come out with a win, but a very ugly one at that. It was turnover central at MetLife Stadium, and neither the Jets or Pats QB was playing their best. Jones got a few lucky penalties, which would save the game for New England.
Mac Jones does not look like the same quarterback that led the Pats to the playoffs just last season. Perhaps the break during his recovery worked against him, the success of Zappe in his absense got in his head, or maybe some underlying issue we aren’t aware of – but whatever it is, New England needs to figure it out before they find themselves below .500 again.