A woeful performance in Frankfurt, Germany could bring along significant change in New England.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick benched Mac Jones following the third-year quarterback's calamitous red-zone interception in the fourth quarter of Sunday's eventual 10-6 loss to the Colts. But unlike the other instances this season when Jones didn't finish a start, the Patriots were well within reach of a win.
Enter Bailey Zappe, who took over from the Patriots' 14-yard line down four points with 1:52 left to play. But Jones' backup only brought along a similar result of disaster eight plays into the Patriots' last gasp, throwing into triple-coverage at midfield for the game-sealing pick after faking a spike.
Belichick told reporters after the game that he "thought it was time for a change" when asked about the switch and declined to say who would start Week 12's game against the New York Giants following their upcoming bye week.
"Look, I made the decision, that's what it was," a terse Belichick added. "We'll deal with next week, next week."
Belichick and Co. will have plenty of time to decide if Jones will remain the starter going forward during the upcoming bye. The tape Jones provided on Sunday, however, won't help his cause.
Jones finished the game 15-of-20 passing for 170 yards with one interception. He was sacked five times in the first half, but the offensive line didn't allow one after halftime. That didn't really matter, however, as Jones remained hesitant to throw downfield and was no doubt the weak point of an offense that saw Rhamondre Stevenson (88 yards) and Ezekiel Elliott (54 yards) provide an efficient rushing attack. At one point during the second half, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien appeared to to voice his displeasure to Jones on the sideline about the QB's decision-making.
Jones' red-zone pick -- a bad underthrow intended for tight end Mike Gesicki in a one-score game -- was especially concerning and seemingly the last straw.
"It was a terrible throw," Jones said of his final play of the game. "Hit it in practice, just not a good throw. I knew where to go, just didn't do it right."
Jones' third benching of the season came in the third game New England failed to score a touchdown. Against the Colts on Sunday, the Patriots struggled in the red zone (0 of 4) during a low-scoring affair and the QB struggles were rightfully left to blame.
The poor performance on an international stage is likely a big disappointment for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who appeared on NFL Network ahead of the game and expressed his dismay on the team's start to the 2023 season.
New England is now 2-8 and the record is tied for the worst in the Belichick era (also started 2-8 in 2000, his first season with the Patriots). The future Hall of Fame coach is in rare territory in his 23rd season with the club, and the continued disappointment could very well bring change in more ways than one.
"I think we all feel that way," Belichick said of Kraft's comments. "I think we're all disappointed in the season. But we'll keep going here. Seven games to go. Be ready to go next week against the Giants."