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Former Patriot Predicts New England’s Starting Quarterback in Week 1

Former New England Patriots player Rob Ninkovich believes that it will be Bailey Zappe starting Week 1 over Mac Jones.
Bailey Zappe Start

Former New England Patriots defensive stalwart, Rob Ninkovich, recently said that he believes Bailey Zappe will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback in Week 1. At the end of the recent “The Dan and Ninko Show“, Dan O’Brien recalled a statement the two-time Super Bowl-champion made about Zappe.

“Zappe is a Week 1 starter,” Ninkovich said. The ex-Patriot then went on to say that “it’s an open competition”, more so than people outside of the Patriots organization realise.

“It’s an open competition, I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I know it’s not 100 percent Mac Jones,” added the former defensive end.

Ninkovich, based on the first look at the schedule, thinks the Patriots will go 11-6. He also joked that, if Zappe is the starting quarterback, New England could be a 12-win team.

Should Bailey Zappe Start Over Mac Jones?

When looking at what Ninkovich said at face value, any Patriots fan would agree. However, the confidence he said it with makes you feel that the New England quarterback competition is wider than people think.


Is 2023 going to be the same song on repeat for the Patriots? 🔂 #nfl #patsnation #zappe #macjones #patriots

♬ original sound – The Dan and Ninko Show

Last year, Jones had his fair share of struggles under Matt Patricia and Joe Judge’s offense, like most of New England’s offensive players. With Bill O’Brien at the helm, the offense figures to undergo an improvement. However, Dan O’Brien made a good point about Bill O’Brien’s hiring. Why would the former Houston Texans head coach return to the Patriots without knowing that Jones would be the starter?

O’Brien is looking to move up the ranks again to return to his former status as an NFL head coach. The Patriots being an 11 or 12-win team can catapult him into position. However, if they continue to be mediocre, then O’Brien’s future will not look bright. As such, it might make sense to have Jones as the starter over Zappe as he is likelier to lead New England to a 11 or 12-win season.

Does Bill Belichick Want Mac Jones Out?

While O’Brien has a point, Ninkovich may be onto something. There was palpable tension between Bill Belichick and Jones about certain off-field matters last season, which could play a role in any decision about who the starting quarterback will be. Jones was clearly frustrated with how the offense was handled in 2022 and reached out to someone outside the Patriots organization, which clearly upset Belichick. While the issue seemed insignificant at face value, earlier this spring it was reported that Belichick had been shopping Jones on the trade market.

This undeniable friction between Jones and Belichick is what has led to the discourse suggesting that Jones will play second fiddle to Zappe.

The likelihood is that Jones starts Week 1 under center, but his leash may not be as long as people think. The former first-round pick will have to prove his worth with O’Brien. Based on how the two speak about each other, a rapport appears to have developed.

However, the fact remains that the door for Zappe to take the starting job lurks. The coming weeks will offer more developments on this quarterback battle with OTAs providing the first look at both Zappe and Jones in action.

Main Photo: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports


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