5 takeaways from the Patriots’ loss to the Bears as the Bailey Zappe vs. Mac Jones debate persists

The Patriots picked a tough time for a let-down game.

Bailey Zappe Patriots
Bailey Zappe at the line during Patriots-Bears. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The Patriots lost to the Bears 33-14 in what was a shocking result on Monday night. New England got off to a slow start and never found consistent footing as Chicago was able to run rampant.

The Patriots fell to 3-4 as the effort to move above .500 for the first time this season proved as elusive as Justin Fields scrambling outside the pocket.

Here are a few takeaways:

Mac Jones started, but couldn’t get anything going.

After missing the last two weeks due to an ankle injury, Mac Jones confirmed much of the pregame reporting and made his return to the starting lineup for the Patriots.

Unfortunately for Jones (and New England fans), it wasn’t much of a comeback for the second-year quarterback.


Jones went three-and-out on his first two drives. When he finally was able to move the ball — albeit in a labored 10-play drive that struggled to stretch beyond just 40 yards — Jones eventually made a bad decision and threw an interception.

After that, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft was sent to the bench.

Bailey Zappe had his “hour,” but it expired quickly.

Amid a chorus of “Zappe” chants, the previously unheralded 2022 fourth-round rookie entered the game in the second quarter following Jones’ benching.

Displaying what sometimes seems to be a quicker release than Jones, Zappe promptly led New England downfield for a touchdown.

Following a Fields interception on the next drive, Zappe went right back to it. A deep ball completion to DeVante Parker set the Patriots up for another touchdown, and it appeared Zappe could do no wrong.

That proved to be the high-water mark for Zappe and the Patriots.

From that point on, Chicago’s defense was able to shut down New England. After the Patriots took a brief 14-10 lead with Zappe at the helm, the team was held scoreless in the remaining five drives (including a pair of Zappe interceptions).

The defense had its worst game of the season.

When Jones was out the two previous weeks, the Patriots’ defense rose to the occasion. With a rookie quarterback in Zappe, New England’s defense seemed to thrive off the adversity.


That didn’t carry over into Monday night’s game against the Bears, however. Chicago simply rolled over the Patriots’ defensive line to the tune of 243 team rushing yards.

Injuries to safety Kyle Dugger (as well as Adrian Phillips, briefly) hampered New England — especially the quality of tackling in the secondary — but the larger point remained even when they were in the regular lineup.

Chicago finished the night with 24 first downs, going 11-18 on third down. At a certain point, the Patriots probably knew the Bears were going to run the ball, but there was little New England could do for most of the game.

The result was a bad loss for a number of reasons.

At a simple level, any loss in the NFL qualifies as a “bad loss,” if for no other reason than the fact that there are just 17 regular season games.

Yet the Patriots had a real opportunity heading into Monday night. After a 1-3 start, New England clawed back to .500 using a backup quarterback. It appeared the season-saving two-week stretch would be punctuated with a payoff win against the Bears (a team that entered the game at 2-4 on the season).

Instead, Belichick’s team suffered a home loss to what was one of the league’s worst offenses heading into the night.


Back below .500 at 3-4, New England now faces the suddenly up-and-coming Jets (5-2) twice in the next three games. The Patriots don’t face another opponent that currently has a losing record until Dec. 12 against the Cardinals.

The game posed more questions than it answered regarding quarterbacks.

For anyone hoping to find a definitive answer to the Jones-Zappe question — if indeed that was a question — it will have to wait a little longer.

In fact, an argument could be made that the game was essentially the worst-case scenario for the Patriots’ quarterback situation. Not only did Jones’ return go poorly, but Zappe’s initial magic proved short-lived.

The rookie ultimately endured a difficult second half in which he and the offense mustered zero points.

The defeat simply magnified that the Patriots can’t be a team that has to chase games, regardless of who is under center. Zappe and the New England offense continuing to huddle during the fourth quarter while trailing by three scores was a testament to that point.

As far as the quarterback situation goes, it’s safe to assume Belichick will continue taking it day by day (and hoping Jones’ ankle continues to heal).


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