Mac Jones vs. Bailey Zappe: two pros, and two cons for each quarterback

New England Patriots quarterbacks Mac Jones (left), and Bailey Zappe (right) stand at attention before a game vs. Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium.
New England Patriots quarterbacks Mac Jones (left), and Bailey Zappe (right) stand at attention before a game vs. Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

One month before the NFL draft, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked who the starting quarterback was going to be going when the season started. And, as of March 28, he would not commit to Mac Jones.

Three days later, when he was asked by's Cody Benjamin, Belichick told Benjamin that Jones and second-year quarterback, Bailey Zappe, would compete for the starting job. Quite the turn around.

So, what's the real story? The real story is that it's just Belichick being... Well... Himself! The reality, is he probably knows who's going to start (barring injuries), but won't know anything until the end of the preseason. Even then, the only way you might only be able to guess based on who gets more (or less) reps in the final game.

With both quarterbacks allegedly competing for the starting role, here are the pros and cons for each guy.

Mac Jones - Pro #1, Experience

One of the things that Jones has over Zappe is experience. He played his entire rookie season as a starter in 2021, and actually had a solid season. Jones won 10 games as a rookie, and even made the Pro Bowl.

During the season, Jones completed 352 of 521 passes for 3,801 yards, and 22 touchdowns. He also only had 13 interceptions. In the one playoff game that New England played in, he completed 24 of 38 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

While his rookie season made him seem like the real deal, his second season, however, made this argument a little bit harder to make.

Mac Jones - Con #1, His Sophomore Slump

The downside to having Jones start is how far he fell off in his sophomore season in 2022. Some of the season was marred with injury when he had to sit out after suffering from a high ankle sprain in Week 3 vs. Baltimore Ravens. Then he came back for nine plays before Zappe took over.

It's hard to say if his numbers suffered because of the injury, or if the injury was just a coincidence, but in 2022 he completed just 288 of 442 for 2,992 yards. He also had just 14 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions.

It's entirely possible that Jones's sophomore slump was a one-off, and he could play much better in his third season in the NFL, but it's also entirely possible he repeats. Having a legitimate offensive coordinator should help, but it remains to be seen if he is actually to start. This leads me to Jones's second pro.

Mac Jones - Pro #2, He Fits Belichick's System

When Tom Brady left the Patriots for Tampa Bay, no one knew what they were going to do at quarterback, so they decided to take a chance, and go in a different direction and sign Cam Newton to start at quarterback. Turns out, they went in a very different direction in more ways than just their playbook. To say that was a colossal failure is putting it mildly. They finished the season with a 7-9 record, and actually missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-2003 season - disappointing fans, and ownership.

After going with a mobile quarterback through free agency, Belichick decided to go back to his traditionalist ways and go to the draft. Not only did he draft a quarterback, but he also drafted one who has a history of not moving around around much in the pocket, throws with pinpoint accuracy, as opposed to overpowering speed - so, in short, a Brady lookalike.

When that quarterback just happened to be recommended by his good friend in Nick Saban, and fall into New England's lap in the First Round, Belichick pounced on the opportunity.

Mac Jones - Con #2, Not Much Of A Comeback Artist

More often than not when Jones in under center, he has made comeback attempts, but he has never made an official comeback to win the game.

He has made many attempts to come back, and he has come very close - especially in their game vs. Indianapolis Colts in his rookie season or on Thanksgiving when playing the Minnesota Vikings. All are, as they say, close, but no cigar, and close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades.

He's never really been able to finish the job, so that's something to be concerned about going into the season.

Bailey Zappe - Pro #1, He Keeps You In The Game

While he has limited experience in the NFL, Zappe has shown that he can keep the Patriots in almost any game he's in, if not already taking the game right away - like in the case of the game where he face off with Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions.

When he was forced into game action vs. Green Bay Packers, he took the team by the reigns, and took an Aaron Rodgers-controlled Packers team to overtime. Even when he had to take over for Jones in their game vs. Chicago Bears in 2022, he immediately took them down for a touchdown on his first possession.

His experience going up against Rodgers head-to-head is something that will bode well for him moving forward, as that is something that Jones has not had to do himself. With Rodgers now in the division, playing for the New York Jets, it may help New England to have a quarterback who understands what it takes to fight back against him now that they have to play him twice each season (at least).

Bailey Zappe, Con #1 - His Lack of Experience Against Big Teams

While Zappe has looked good in the few games he started in 2022, they were all against teams that many say are "easy wins". He was charged with starting against the Cleveland Browns, and the Detroit Lions, and won handidly.

While, it's a small sample-size, it's also not against powerhouse teams like the ones the Patriots are poised to play this year like the Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys.

If Zappe is to start in 2023, it will be curious to see how he fares against the bigger-time opponents.

Bailey Zappe - Pro #2, He Can Throw On The Run/Run In General

Something most teams are looking for these days is a guy who can run, or is at the very least marginally mobile, and can move around in the pocket with ease.

You don't always need to have a Lamar Jackson on your team to be successful, but sometimes you need someone like Rodgers who can get out of the pocket, and run if need be to get away from the pressure.

When you compare him, and Jones they look like almost polar opposites in more than just these ways too, but one thing that he does need to develop is a relationship with his Offensive Coordinator.

Bailey Zappe - Con #2, He Hasn't Developed A Relationship With O'Brien... Yet...

He may not admit it, but in his limited time working with him, Jones has at least a slight relationship with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. It may not be much of a relationship, but it's still an edge over Zappe.

Unfortunately for Zappe, however, all he knows about O'Brien is either hearsay or from what other coaches have told him.

Watch for him to try and develop a relationship with him very quickly so that he can establish his name as at least a "QB1A", if not a QB1.

Both Zappe and Jones are solid choices to lead the offense, and compliment the team in more ways than one. Now that the NFL Draft is behind us, we count down the days to see who stands out in camp.