New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is still working his way back from a sprained ankle, but it appears there's a chance his starting job won't be waiting for him when he returns.
While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked directly if Jones will be the team's starting quarterback when he's fully recovered and he responded, "We'll see."
Belichick also didn't offer much of an update when asked if Jones will be ready in time for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, saying, "We'll see what it's like today and go from there."
The Patriots' quarterback situation appeared dire when veteran backup Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion in his first start in place of Jones against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4. But the team gained some optimism when 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe took over as the starter and helped lead New England to a 29-0 win over the Detroit Lions this past Sunday.
Similar to Jones, Zappe played the role of game manager in the victory against Detroit. He went 17-of-21 for 188 yards, a touchdown and an interception while New England focused on the run game and totaled 176 yards on the ground on 35 carries. Kyle Duggar also had a 59-yard fumble return for a touchdown and veteran kicker Nick Folk made all five of his field goals.
While Zappe's performance wasn't eye-popping by any means, it was reminiscent of Jones' rookie season in which he played efficient, mistake-free football to help lead the Patriots to success. However, Belichick was asked about the similarities between Zappe and Jones and he apparently doesn't see many, telling reporters, "I don't know. They're both right-handed."
Whatever the case may be, this week the Patriots will be facing a Browns defense that ranks third in the NFL in opponents' completion percentage at 58.6. It will be up to Belichick to determine which quarterback gives New England the greatest chance for success, but it appears there's a chance Jones might not get the nod even if he's healthy.