Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe both struggle again as Patriots’ QB woes continue

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The Patriots are searching for a starting quarterback and the way Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe played against the New York Giants on Sunday, New England may have to wait until the NFL draft next spring to find one.

Jones and Zappe combined to throw three interceptions and set up all the Giants’ points as New York handed the Patriots their fourth straight loss, 10-7.

“We just finished the game,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, apparently irked by a question about whether Zappe would start next week against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Belichick was asked all week about his QBs leading up to the game. He didn’t reveal his starter until Jones walked onto the field after a New York turnover on the first possession.

Belichick said he told Jones he would remain the starting quarterback in the days leading up to the game against the Giants, but Jones again not play well. Neither did Zappe, who got the call for the second half.

Jones, who has started every game for New England this season, finished 12 of 21 for 89 yards and two interceptions, one of which Bobby Okereke returned 55 yards to set up Tommy DeVito’s touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins late in the first half.

Zappe was 9 of 14 for 54 yards, but he was picked off in the fourth quarter by Xavier McKinney. That led to Randy Bullock’s go-ahead 42-yard field goal.

“Just bad quarterback play and wasn’t good enough by me,” said Jones, a first-round pick by the Pats in 2021. “So, if the quarterback doesn’t play well, you have no chance.”

Zappe said he should have thrown to check-down receiver Tyquan Thornton, who was wide open on the play where he was intercepted.

“That’s just bad by me,” Zappe said. “He (McKinney) made a great play. I’m sure when I go back and look at it, he did a great job, he snipered across. For me, I have to see that, so that’s totally on me.”

Zappe said Jones told him before the second half to go in and win. He had a chance to tie the game late, but Chad Ryland missed a game-tying 35-yard field goal attempt.

“I’m sure there were some good things but there’s bad things,” Zappe said. “There was a turnover that led to a field goal that led to us losing so yeah, it’s a missed opportunity. We didn’t win.”

The Patriots (2-9) have the third-worst record in the NFL, putting them in line for a top-three pick in the draft if they continue to slide. There are expected to be several promising quarterbacks available, including Caleb Williams of Southern California and Bo Nix of Oregon.

The Patriots also have Malik Cunningham on their practice squad. They released Will Grier on Saturday.

New England had some positives in the game. They recorded a season-high six sacks and held the Giants to 220 yards of total offense.

“It’s definitely tough, definitely tough,” said Patriots defensive back Jabrill Peppers, who had three tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery. “I really wanted this one. Like I said before, if we don’t let them score, we can’t lose. There are a couple of plays that we wish could have back on defense, but it is what it is.”

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