Is momentum building toward Bailey Zappe as Patriots' starting QB?

Is momentum building toward Bailey Zappe as Patriots' starting QB? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones may have to sit with his disastrous late-game interception a while longer.

The New England Patriots benched Jones in favor of backup quarterback Bailey Zappe late in their 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany, after Jones threw a brutal interception at the goal line with 4:25 remaining. The third-year QB now has 10 interceptions in 10 games, and after the Patriots fell to 2-8 with Jones as their starter, there's a very real possibility the team could turn to either Zappe or third-string quarterback Will Grier during the Week 12 bye.

ESPN's Dan Graziano believes the team is leaning toward Zappe.

"Sources I'm talking to think coach Bill Belichick could use the two-week break to make a change and get Zappe ready to start," Graziano wrote Wednesday, adding that the Patriots feel as though Zappe "has shown enough in practice to be viable."

"It sounds like there's a solid chance Zappe will be the guy for Week 12 and maybe the rest of the season," Graziano wrote.

Jones losing his job would be quite the fall from grace for the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and runner-up in the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year race. But it appears Jones' repeated mistakes have become untenable; Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported last week that Jones had "infuriated" Patriots staffers with his poor decision-making, and the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan cited a team source Wednesday who estimated that "at least 80 percent" of the Patriots' locker room is "out" on Jones as the starter.

"I felt like in that moment when you took (Jones) out, that was it," former Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty, who NFL Network's color analyst for its broadcast of New England's loss to the Colts, told our Tom E. Curran on a new Patriots Talk Podcast. " ... I don't see how you go back to Mac Jones unless there's an injury or something else happened."

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So, perhaps the Patriots benching Jones isn't as surprising as it seems. But why would the team go with Zappe over Grier?

After all, Zappe hasn't shown much in his three relief appearances this season, completing just 40 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns and one interception for a brutal 36.1 passer rating. The Patriots actually released Zappe prior to the season before claiming him on waivers, a sign of how little they thought of their 2022 fourth-round pick.

Grier, meanwhile, flashed some real upside during the 2023 preseason with the Dallas Cowboys, racking up 305 passing yards with four total touchdowns (two passing; two rushing) in the team's preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders.

That said, Grier hasn't appeared in a regular-season NFL game since 2019. So, while the West Virginia product may boast slightly more upside, the team is probably more comfortable with Zappe, who has seen the field in seven games over the last two seasons.

The Patriots have one of the NFL's most unenviable quarterback situations, which explains why they're 2-8. But it looks like Zappe may have the inside track to make his third NFL start when the team visits the New York Giants on Nov. 26.