Sky Sports NFL’s Jason Bell and Phoebe Schecter discuss the future of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones after Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts: “He has not developed and, if anything, he has regressed over the last three years”
Last Updated: 12/11/23 9:11pm
The future of Mac Jones was plunged into further doubt on Sunday as he and the New England Patriots offense endured another turbulent day on their way to a 10-6 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts.
Jones threw an untimely interception to Julian Blackmon at the goal line with just four minutes to play before being benched for Bailey Zappe at the two-minute warning, salt-in-the-wound coming in the form of chants of ‘Zappe, Zappe’ ringing around Deutsche Bank Park.
He had almost been picked off by Blackmon in the end zone earlier in the game as a misunderstanding with his intended receiver stumped what had been a promising drive downfield.
With the game on the line, the Patriots turned to their backup. And while Jones has been benched on previous occasions, this one came with a different, perhaps more defining, feel.
“I can tell you one thing for sure: Mac Jones is not the future,” said Sky Sports NFL’s Jason Bell.
“Not letting him have the opportunity at the end to go down there and score, that is about pure belief. ‘This isn’t for you and we’re going to have to move on’.
“It was a tough day for him. Mac Jones, probably not the future.”
Jones played down suggestions of injury after the game and admitted the decision to pull him was merely down to performance.
For all the promise that had been shown in his rookie year, the 2021 first-round pick has become the face of a stagnant offense showing few signs of improvement under Bill O’Brien.
“They still want that pocket passer. But they need somebody that has got a little bit more athleticism and a better feel for the pocket,” explained Sky Sports NFL’s Phoebe Schecter.
“He has not developed and, if anything, he has regressed over the last three years.
“When it comes down to it, it almost gets to a point like with guys like Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson, where they become a hindrance to themselves and they lose that confidence.
“Also you add the fact that he has really lost that locker room in a lot of different ways. You usually look to your quarterback, your leader on the field, to help hype you up… but that’s just not Mac Jones.”
The defeat comes amid a time of mounting uncertainty surrounding the Bill Belichick reign in Foxboro, some local reports in Boston having suggested during the week that Sunday’s game would play a contributing role in the decision over his future.
At 2-8, the Patriots now sit with their worst record through 10 games under Belichick.
“He is in a difficult situation,” added Bell. “This team shows a lack of talent, but he is responsible for the lack of talent.
“He is the GM and he can’t fire himself.
“Right now he is in a really tough situation. I’m not sure what is going to happen… but the owner talked about how important this game is for them but they found a way to lose it.”
Asked by one reporter if he was bothered by discussion over his job security, Belichick simply replied: “I just do the best I can every day.”
While Blackmon logged a crucial pick, the Colts defense was also inspired by three sacks from Dayo Odeyingbo, 15 tackles from the exceptional Zaire Franklin amid a career year for the linebacker and nine quarterback hits across the team.
Gus Bradley’s unit earned the praise of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr, who led the team with eight catches for 84 yards.
“It was a really tough game, a gritty game. There wasn’t a whole lot of offense out there, but we were able to lean on the defense who really took care of the game for us,” Pittman told Sky Sports NFL.
“We’re going to go back and celebrate them because they got this win for us.”
As the NFL closed the book on its final international regular season game of the year, it marked something of a pinch-me-moment for Colts offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann, who had grown up playing football in neighbouring Austria and attended 2013’s London game between the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers as a fan.
“It’s hard to put into words. Obviously wins are huge. They’re hard to come by in the NFL. Getting a win in Germany just means that much more,” he told reporters.
“Looking back at this journey, watching an NFL game in London and then watching the NFL live for the first time, I remember how much it meant for me.
“Now being on the flip side of that, being out on the field celebrating a win with my teammates, it’s just unbelievable. I can’t even put it into words.”