Bill Belichick allowed his assistants roughly 36 hours of trip over the bye week.
Maybe a bit extra time may have helped clear their heads.
Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien indicated Monday that Belichick has but to determine on a beginning quarterback. You’ll bear in mind Belichick pulled Mac Jones close to the top of the Patriots’ final loss, a 10-6 worldwide embarrassment that Jones’ substitute, Bailey Zappe, capped with a mind-numbing interception. O’Brien hinted this week’s starter will not be named till the employees sees who performs finest in observe. But, be sincere: how a lot do you care?
What extra drained matter is there than the Patriots’ quarterback scenario, a morass of dangerous passers handcuffed to one of many NFL’s least proficient rosters?
Jones has been benched 3 times. Zappe is the least correct quarterback within the league this season, per Pro Football Focus. Third-stringer Will Grier may need much less recreation than the 40-year-old Virgin, contemplating the Panthers, Cowboys, Bengals and now Patriots haven’t handed him a regular-season snap since 2019. And then there’s Malik Cunningham, an undrafted rookie who’s additionally dabbled at receiver and on particular groups.
Staging a contest in observe is sensible. O’Brien insinuated there are sufficient reps in observe for 2 quarterbacks to finish for the job. Let’s make this straightforward for him.
Jones and Zappe are the Pats’ high choices, so go forward and choose one. I’ll take one other: Cunningham.
If Cunningham was adequate to function the Patriots’ No. 2 backup in a mid-October loss at Las Vegas, he’s adequate to earn consideration now. He’s a dual-threat who should purchase time behind a porous offensive line and afford his receivers one other second or two to uncover, one thing not one of the different quarterbacks can supply.
Cunningham is extensively heralded as a wise participant, and has been because the summer season. With Jones, the Patriots have already stripped their passing assault right down to Day 1 ideas: screens, slants, shallow crosses, curls and deep photographs virtually strictly off play-actions. Cunningham can deal with that.
“Malik’s done a really good job. … Whether that leads to playing time and all those things again, that’ll be up to Bill (Belichick),” O’Brien mentioned. “I think assistant coaches make recommendations and head coaches make decisions. And so that’ll be up to Bill. But (Cunningham)’s made a lot of improvements.”
Sure, his accuracy is erratic. And he’s inexperienced. And maybe essentially the most pertinent truth when weighing Cunningham’s prospects as an NFL quarterback is that he went undrafted final April.
Nevertheless, if he can heed one instruction most quarterbacks can observe, Cunningham ought to get the keys. That instruction? Play it secure.
Fender benders are effective, however don’t get right into a automotive wreck. Because Jones, even after resting over the bye, has risked extra turnovers than some other quarterback within the NFL, per PFF. He flinches on the mere sight of stress.The Patriots merely can not reside like this any longer.
Practice to find out Patriots’ Week 12 beginning quarterback competitors?
Unlike Jones and Zappe, Cunningham has a plan B in opposition to stress: scramble or work to increase the play. And he takes a sack, how is that totally different from what Jones is doing? Jones absorbed 5 in Germany.
Meanwhile, Cunningham dances round defenders like he is standing on sizzling coals and clocks a 4.5 when working in a straight line. That potential can unlock new run-game wrinkles and amplify the Patriots’ one offensive energy [their rush offense ranks third in Expected Points Added (EPA) and second in success rate since Week 5]. If the Pats intend to play floor and pound in opposition to the Giants, choose a quarterback who can energy that plan.
A fast apart: O’Brien believes Jones is fixable. Let’s hope so. Jones is a hard-working child targeted on the suitable issues who’s keen to toe the corporate line and pour himself absolutely into the group. He’s correct and sensible. Jones deserves higher than the scenario Belichick crafted round him, arguably the worst for any quarterback within the NFL.
But that scenario is just not altering. And even when O’Brien is correct — Jones may be mounted — that is a challenge that can’t and won’t be accomplished within the subsequent two months inside this atmosphere.
Jones would possible beat out Cunningham in a head-to-head competitors this week. But on the very least, the coaches owe it to their gamers to drive Jones to show himself. If he fails, flip to the child, and minimize him free.
Because if the Patriots should endure rookie errors from the quarterback, like Jones’ final go in opposition to the Colts, his sacks or Zappe’s choose, should not it no less than be a rookie holding the ball?