If Bill Belichick wanted to make the New England Patriots' quarterback situation as confusing as possible, he succeeded Monday night.
Mac Jones started against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium, returning from a three-game absence due to a high-ankle sprain. But after he threw an interception on New England's third drive, the Patriots replaced him with rookie Bailey Zappe, who led back-to-back touchdown drives to spark the offense.
At halftime, Belichick told ESPN's Lisa Salters the plan was to play both Jones and Zappe in the second half. Jones never returned, however, and New England's offense fizzled under Zappe en route to an ugly 33-14 loss.
Pats' QB situation is a mess as Zappe, Jones struggle in ugly loss vs. Bears
So, what did Jones make of the whole mess? After the game, the second-year quarterback supported Belichick's assertion that the plan was for both him and Zappe to play Monday night.
"Just part of the plan," Jones told reporters. "I think Coach Belichick did a really, really good job of explaining it to me. I knew what the plan was and the timing is the timing, but we were on the same page and there's no hard feelings or anything."
Jones had to listen to boos from the Patriots crowd after his interception and fans chanting for Zappe to replace him. That has to be pretty demoralizing for a quarterback, but if Jones was upset by how the situation unfolded, he didn't show it.
"Definitely wanted to play better," Jones when asked about hearing the Zappe chants. "I just have to do better at my job, and that's all it comes down to. That's all I can control. Honestly, we’ve got a good chance here to go against the Jets, and that's what I'm focused on. I'm going to do my best to put my best foot forward.
"I've been in this situation before, and just going to try to help the team. Whatever my role is, I'll be ready, and I'll give it 100 percent."
Belichick gave no indication of who will start at quarterback next Sunday against the New York Jets, simply replying, "We just finished the game." The mystery surrounding the QB situation appears to be impacting the locker room, as well -- wide receiver Jakobi Meyers said it was "tough as a man" to see Jones "get that kind of treatment" -- so it may benefit Belichick to clear the air sooner than later.
Jones did his best to take the high road Monday night, though.
"I'm always going to be a good team player," Jones added. "I did that at Alabama when I waited my turn, and I did it in high school. I did it in Pop Warner. I know I'm a good teammate, and that's one of the things that I pride myself on the most. Whether I'm in the game or not, I try to be a good teammate.
"... I wish I played better when I was in there, but I'll hopefully have a chance to do that in practice and kind of earn that back and apply it in the game."