There has been a lot of ugly football played by the New England Patriots in the 2023 season. Future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick is in the midst of the worst season in his tenure with the franchise and is heading toward one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
New England dropped to 2-9 after their embarrassing loss to the New York Giants in Week 12. A 10-7 loss is certainly rare for the NFL these days, as both offenses were stuck in neutral for most of the afternoon. But, New York was able to get just a little bit more out of theirs led by undrafted rookie free agent quarterback, Tommy DeVito.
Across from DeVito at the start of the game was 2021 first-round pick, Mac Jones. Jones was disastrous once again, throwing two first-half interceptions. Belichick saw enough from him and turned the offense over to Bailey Zappe in the second half.
Individually, Zappe wasn’t too much better, as he threw an interception of his own. But, he did lead the team on a touchdown drive out of halftime. He also had them in position to tie the game late before Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal which would have sent the game into overtime.
While the players were certainly disappointed about losing again, for the long-term health of the franchise, losing was the best thing that could have happened. The Patriots are now in prime position to select one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.
In the opinion of NFL insider Dan Graziano of ESPN, it isn’t an overreaction to say that the Patriots will use a first-round pick on a quarterback in the draft in April. Making an argument against that is difficult, as it seems like the most logical route for the franchise to take.
“I don’t know what Jones would have to do in the final six weeks of the season to convince the Patriots to pick up his 2025 fifth-year option and not draft a quarterback with their very high first-round selection. But it’s possible he doesn’t even get the chance to play for them again. At this point, it seems very clear that the Pats will be in the market for a new QB next offseason.
The bigger question is who will be in charge of the decision if New England ends up parting ways with coach/general manager Bill Belichick when this miserable season is over. Whoever ends up calling the shots for the Pats next offseason will absolutely have eyes on the quarterback draft class — including USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye — as well as the free agent QBs. It feels like the Patriots have seen enough of Jones,” wrote Graziano.
Sunday was the third time this season that Jones was benched in favor of Zappe. That could have possibly been his last chance, as all signs are pointing to Zappe being named the starter in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
This isn’t much evidence that Zappe can help the team be more competitive, but things can’t really get worse for New England. They are near the bottom in most offensive passing categories already and have to do something to try and shake things up.
At this point in the season, with a 10 percent chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick, losing is the best thing for the Patriots. The Carolina Panthers, whose pick is owned by the Chicago Bears, and Arizona Cardinals are all that is keeping New England from the No. 1 overall pick.
Unless something drastically changes with their offensive production, at the very least, the Patriots look nearly locked into a top-three pick. That would put them in prime position to select Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, as losing to the Giants could be the most significant outcome in a game for New England in years.