Bill Belichick has told all three quarterbacks on the New England Patriots’ roster to be ready to start Sunday against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
The coach who brought six Lombardi Trophies to New England is facing more scrutiny and speculation about his own future than ever before, as he and the Patriots (2-8) deal with the realities of a lost season.
Belichick benched Mac Jones in favor of Bailey Zappe for the final drive of a 10-6 loss to Indianapolis in Frankfurt, Germany, two weeks ago before the Patriots’ bye week. Jones, a former first-round pick, has thrown 10 interceptions to 10 touchdowns through 10 games.
Now, he may lose his starting job to Zappe or Will Grier.
“A lot of that decision-making is things I can’t control, but I can control my attitude and effort,” Jones said. “I’m really thankful overall just to be in the NFL and to be playing quarterback. On Thanksgiving, it’s a great week to be grateful for a lot of things. To play this game, the game we love, together, that means a lot to me regardless of the situation.”
Zappe and Grier “rotated in” for some first-team reps at practice, according to offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, but Jones clarified that’s not new.
“We’ve been splitting them for a little bit of time here,” Jones said. “So I’m just trying to take advantage of when I get in there, and when I don’t get the reps, go off to the side and throw with the receivers and with an equipment manager, and make sure I get all the throws I need.”
Giants coach Brian Daboll said he’s studied Zappe, who started two games for New England last year, as well as tape of Grier’s two starts for Carolina in 2019. The Belichickian dedication to game-planning was apparent, as Daboll worked for Belichick from 2000-06 and 2013-16 as a defensive assistant and position coach.
“A lot of good coaches, a lot of good mentors that I’ve had,” Daboll said. “You take a lot from a lot of those older coaches that have done it for a long time.”
The Giants (3-8) have lost Daniel Jones for the year due to ACL surgery. Last week, they won with Tommy DeVito as their starter for the first time.
New York topped the Washington Commanders 31-19 behind 246 passing yards and three touchdowns from DeVito, an undrafted New Jersey native who spent most of this season on the practice squad.
DeVito is the first undrafted rookie in the common draft era to throw five touchdown passes in his first two NFL starts.
“He’s so young right now with only the two starts. We’ve really got to focus on him and the things he does well,” Daboll said.
The Giants’ offense continues to feature a large dose of Saquon Barkley, the team leader with 651 rushing yards even after missing three games this season.
New York ruled out tackle Evan Neal (ankle) for Sunday’s game, while wide receiver Darius Slayton (neck) and defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (hamstring) are doubtful. Running back Eric Gray (ankle) is questionable. Productive linebacker Bobby Okereke (hip/rib) carries no injury designation despite missing Wednesday’s practice and being limited on Thursday and Friday.
Seven players are questionable for New England: special teams captain Matthew Slater (ankle), wide receiver DeVante Parker (concussion), offensive linemen Trent Brown (ankle) and Riley Reiff (knee), defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. (shoulder), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (hamstring) and cornerback Jonathan Jones (knee).