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Patriots Mailbag: How to deal with QB situation

Lots of questions about the quarterbacks in this week's mailbag.

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Although this is Mac Jones' second season, he does not seem to be the long-term answer at quarterback. His inconsistent play that includes interceptions, sacks and way too many three-and-outs are all very concerning. He also seems to have issues throwing for anything more than short passes which is not going to make you a star quarterback. The Patriots should have had a great deal more than 22 points for this victory over the Jets. Unless things change, Baily Zappe should be the choice. There are plenty of upcoming drafts if neither of these two are the answer to a struggling offense.
Art Winkleman

I would agree that given the advantageous field position the Patriots enjoyed against the Jets that the offense should have put up more than 22 points. I would also agree that inconsistency at the quarterback position was at least part of the reason for that disappointing showing. I would disagree that Zappe has shown much more, however. Against Chicago he failed to move the team at all over the final five drives he was in the game. He initially gave the team some life with a pair of touchdowns, but that was it. So, like Jones, Zappe was inconsistent as well and the inability to protect the ball has hurt both quarterbacks as well. Until the offense can avoid penalties and turnovers, I'm not sure things will improve regardless of which of the two is at the helm.
Paul Perillo

After a tumultuous training camp and now eight games it's clear to me this year is a training year for Matt Patricia as offensive coordinator. The offense is disjointed and often ineffective. It doesn't have a clear identity and doesn't score a lot of points (against a quality opponent). The o-line, which Patricia also coaches, is not the team strength it was the past two years. The problems are not the fault of a second-year quarterback. I'd love to be proven wrong and watch the Patriots become an offensive juggernaut this season, but I doubt that'll happen. What do you think? Could you see a course correction at the end of the season?
Will Dargie

There is some truth to some of the things you say … the offense hasn't been productive and the offensive line hasn't been a team strength. But the Patriots lost two starters on the offensive line from last year (Shaq Mason, Ted Karras) and replaced one with a rookie and then moved the tackles around. As a result, the performance hasn't been as strong as it was last year. Against the Jets, another starter (David Andrews) was missing so that made things even worse. Yes, Matt Patricia is the offensive line coach but suggesting the performance is his fault is ignoring the personnel decisions that he didn't have any part in. As for the offense in general, the main reason it looks so disjointed is the team can't stop turning the ball over. Ball security has been a major issue all season and I know for a fact that's something the coaches stress at practice every day because I watch training camp every summer and a lot of time is spent on that aspect of the game. Is coaching part of the problem? I think it's reasonable to suggest that things would likely look smoother if Josh McDaniels was still running the show, but that doesn't explain all the problems. If the offense starts to take better care of the ball, I can see some improvement. If not, I don't expect much to change.
Paul Perillo

Patriot's center David Andrews delivers the snap and awaits pressure from the defense.
Patriot's center David Andrews delivers the snap and awaits pressure from the defense.

After our New England Patriots marginally beat the New York Jets where does that performance leave us in terms of the tiring drama at the quarterback position and also what is your view on the team's overall identity which I feel has been lacking a bit, and in most seasons gone by we could usually at this point in the season commit ourselves to saying exactly what kind of team our franchise has. What's your views on these subjects after Sundays win?
Marc Saez

I think the 2022 Patriots have been inconsistent for most of the season. At times during games they move the ball well, especially on the ground, and they play tough defense. At others, they're sloppy with the ball and allow teams to convert on third down at an alarming rate. That spells inconsistency and right now that's the team's identity. I think they want to be a physical running team and play smart football and avoid mistakes. Unfortunately during the first half of the season they've turned the ball over too much and committed too many unnecessary penalties. We'll see how things go during the second half of the season to see if they can change that.
Paul Perillo

The Patriots defense has struggled in the last few years against a team that can run the ball and is unable to contain a running QB. There is no gain in getting a sack and obtaining a third-and-long, when in the next play you give up the yardage for a first down via a running play. What is wrong with the run defense. Is it the defensive scheme or the personnel, or is it both? What are your views on the Patriots run defense and how can it become better heading into the rest of the season.
Mohammed Ijaz

There is no question the Patriots have struggled to consistently stop the run in recent seasons. Going back to the 2019 season when Derrick Henry ended Tom Brady's illustrious run in Foxborough in the playoffs, New England's defense hasn't handled the run as well as it needs to. I am by no means an expert on the various schemes that are necessary to compete better against the run but I do feel the Patriots could use more bulk up front and more active linebackers. At times I feel the discipline on the edges has been lacking, like last Monday night against Chicago when Justin Fields was able to turn the corner consistently for positive yardage. Running quarterbacks have taken advantage of the lack of depth at linebacker as well. The Patriots have often tried to use safeties in that role but sometimes those players aren't able to fight through the blocks as consistently as necessary. Like I said, I'm no expert on this topic but the bottom line is the performance needs to improve, especially against running quarterbacks. And to be fair, many of these running quarterbacks – like Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen – are productive against virtually every team they face. The Patriots defense needs to find some consistency, but at times the performance against the run has improved.
Paul Perillo

This question may border on blasphemy on this site, but I'll ask anyway. With Bill Belichick passing George Halas, and on the heels of Don Shula: Is Bill Belichick really a great coach, or is he the beneficiary of the greatest offensive (Brady) and defensive (LT, when he was the Giants DC) players of all time. His non-Brady, head coaching record (Browns, Pats) is pretty dismal, except for the 11-5 Cassell year (but Brady was 16-0 with the same roster, so that's a five-win difference with Brady. However, I'm sure he had a lot do with player development to improve players roster, and drafting players (his record is hit and miss in this area, though). Thoughts?
RD Reddy

I hear this question get asked a lot and my simple answer is yes, Bill Belichick really is a great coach. He's won in so many ways with a variety of personnel over the years that I feel he's been a big part of it. Obviously he won the most when he was alongside Tom Brady, the best quarterback in the history of the game. Most of the great coaches have always had a great quarterback alongside. Bill Walsh with Joe Montana. Chuck Noll with Terry Bradshaw. Tom Landry with Roger Staubach. The list goes on and on. I understand that the numbers indicate that Belichick is average without Brady but watching him prepare the team over the past 20-plus years I am convinced that he's exceptional at what he does.
Paul Perillo

Given that the game is constantly evolving, is it possible it's starting to pass Bill by? The defense can't seem to stop mobile QBs and the offense has no true playmakers. In my opinion both key in the faster, higher scoring games we see today. It's no shame if it has, it's happened to the best, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, great coaches but couldn't field winning teams at the end of their careers.
Michael Mitchell

Again, I'm not ready to say the game has passed Belichick by. I still see a team that has solid game plans most weeks (obviously the Chicago game was not one of them), opens with some really effective drives at the start of games and consistently makes solid adjustments when things aren't going well (start of second half against Jets). Again, most of the time, not every time. There are some things I wonder about, and stopping mobile quarterbacks is one of them, but overall I watched Belichick find a way to go 10-7 with a rookie quarterback in 2021 and make the playoffs. I'm not sure that could have happened if the game had passed him by.
Paul Perillo

Why start Mac Jones against the Jets. He couldn't handle the Bears? Zappe got the better arm.
Mark Tyler

Jones played three series in the game and Zappe played the final three quarters. Other than taking advantage of short fields twice, neither generated any offense whatsoever. Zappe led touchdown drives of 50 and 55 yards. Otherwise he turned the ball over three times and failed to even move into Chicago territory on his other five drives. Jones definitely looked rusty and unsure of himself at the start and seemed to leave the pocket too quickly, and that's likely why Belichick took him out. I believe that was a mistake as Jones needed more time to continue to knock off the rust. While I wouldn't consider either Jones or Zappe as having a strong arm, I feel Jones' is stronger, not that that should be the reason to play him. Overall he has more experience at this stage and deserves more time to show his development.
Paul Perillo

Patriot's QB Mac Jones breaking a tackle and running down the middle of the field.
Patriot's QB Mac Jones breaking a tackle and running down the middle of the field.

Last year was a good first-year development for Mac. If the team did not have the personnel to play the style that they thought was best suited for how he played in college why pursue it? Mac is smart and his time should have been spent in the offseason making him comfortable under center. Part of the reason Zappe was more successful is in college most of his time was spent under center. If you don't have the right people don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Roy O'Hanley

Why all of a sudden are people fascinated with whether or not plays come from under center? Jones spent plenty of time doing both as a rookie and had plenty of success with under center play action. He also had plenty of time out of the shotgun, and that's probably where he prefers it since he did it so well in college. But there's nothing stopping Jones from doing both, and Zappe did not spend much time under center in college. He played in the Air Raid attack, which is almost exclusively out of the shotgun.
Paul Perillo

Not panicking yet, but your thought on why they lost so badly Monday night? Can they regroup or is their confidence shot?
Bob Snowdon

The defense couldn't stop the run and was caught off guard by the designed runs for Justin Fields. The Patriots talked about being surprised by the amount of designed runs they called because they hadn't seen much of that on film. It was a big part of the problem Monday night, and I would expect a response going forward. The simple reason for the loss: the defense wasn't ready to play.
Paul Perillo

Quick correction for you boys, multiple times on Patriots Unfiltered you mentioned the Patriots drafted Mac over Fields. Fields was drafted first. They didn't have free reign to pick any quarterback they wanted. Save that for talk radio please.
JJ Barnes

You are correct but the point we were trying to make was if the Patriots wanted Fields instead of Jones they easily could have traded up to get him just like Chicago did. Fields went 11th overall, just four picks ahead of where the Patriots stood. The Bears swapped No. 20 for 11 and gave the Giants three picks – a first, fourth and fifth. That price would likely have been lower for the Patriots since they wouldn't have needed to move that far. Obviously Bill Belichick didn't make the move and was content to hold tight and take Jones. But like the Bears, he had a choice between the two.
Paul Perillo

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