Bill Belichick says Mac Jones is his quarterback for now, but non-committal past that

Perry: Belichick remains non-committal on Pats' long-term QB plan originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- Mac Jones is the quarterback for the Patriots. This week, at least. After that? Bill Belichick isn't saying.

Belichick opened his press conference Thursday by saying Jones took a "full workload" on Wednesday. He added, "I expect him to be fully available here for the game and ready to go."

When asked specifically if Jones was starting on Sunday against the Jets, Belichick said, "That's what I just said."

Beyond Sunday, though, Belichick was non-committal.

"That's where we're at," Belichick said. "I don't want to go through hypotheticals. That's not where we're at. We're getting ready for the Jets. That's where we're at. Period."

When posed a follow-up, Belichick said, "You're going to give me a bunch of hypothetical situations, I don't know what those hypotheticals are so I'm not going to get into that.

"Anything that happens beyond [this week], it's not current. Not going to get into it. That's as helpful as I can be."

Belichick was later asked if the decision to make Jones the quarterback this week was fully related to his health.

"Yes. He's ready to play. He was ready to play last week, just didn't feel it was the full game. This week is a different situation. That's it. We'll take it from there.

"Don't keep trying to trap me into stuff in the future because I can't... Today's today."

Belichick explained that the play of rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, who went 2-0 as a starter and played the vast majority of three quarters of Monday night's loss to the Bears, had no bearing on the decision to go with Jones for Week 8.

"No," Belichick said. "We started the game the way we wanted to start it last week, and we talked about the way it ended up. This week is a different week, different situation. Mac will be the quarterback."

It's important, Belichick said, for Jones to get the full workload in practice. Both for Jones, since he missed three weeks injured, and for the entirety of the Patriots offense.

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"He's ready to do that," Belichick said. "That's what he needs to prepare for the game. That's what our offensive unit needs, everybody working together. We'll get that this week.

"... I think it's more important (to get full practice reps) when you haven't played in a while, put it that way. It's always important. But when you've been out for a while, then getting that timing and execution back is important for you and your team, at any position."

Belichick was in some ways echoing comments made back in 2019 when he remembered toggling back and forth between Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe in practices in 2001. He ultimately determined that was a mistake because of the number of reps needed to succeed at that position in a given week.

"Kind of the crossroads was in the middle of the 2001 season when we played the Rams," Belichick told NFL Network at the time. "That was the week Drew had come back, so I split the reps between Tom and Drew that week and the Rams beat us in that regular-season game on Sunday night. I didn’t think that was Tom’s best game, but in retrospect, I looked at it and thought it would be hard for anybody to play well only getting half the reps.

"The following week against New Orleans, I said, ‘We’re just going with Tom and he’s going to get all the reps and he’s going to play.’ He played very well in that game and I think that’s one of the real trademarks of Tom’s career. There have been a couple games along the way where he hasn’t been his best, but the next game he’s always come back and had an outstanding game. That was a real turning point, I would say, in that season and ultimately the evolution of Tom’s great career.”

Jones and Zappe split reps early in the week last week leading up to the Bears game. But with Jones now off the injury report, and with Belichick making it clear that he's the quarterback this week, Jones will have to show that he can make the most of his practice time and spin that into a good performance Sunday.

Because, from the sound of it, nothing beyond that is guaranteed.