It's the return of the Mac. After missing New England's previous three games due to a high ankle sprain, quarterback Mac Jones will start for the Patriots as they take on the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football" in the Week 7 finale, according to Sports Illustrated. Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, who started the previous two games in Jones' absence, will back him up.
Jones' return to the lineup was trending in this direction throughout the week. He was limited in practice and officially listed as questionable. Earlier on Monday, New England did not elevate quarterback Garrett Gilbert onto the gameday roster from the practice squad, which was another key indicator that Jones would be up for this game.
The 2021 first-round pick went down with an ankle injury late during New England's Week 3 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Initially, Brian Hoyer was slated to replace him as the Patriots' starter, but he suffered a concussion in Week 4 against the Packers at Lambeau Field, which thrust Zappe into action.
With the rookie at the helm, New England was not only able to stay afloat but roll to a perfect 2-0 record in the two games he started. Even in the Week 4 loss to Green Bay, Zappe kept New England in the game and helped take the game to overtime. His play even left questions about a possible quarterback controversy for Bill Belichick, but this reinsertion of Jones should slow that chatter at least for the moment.
In the three games Zappe played during Jones' absence, the rookie completed 72.9% of his passes to go with a 111.4 passer rating. He also had four passing touchdowns and just one interception over that stretch. As for Jones, it was an up-and-down start the year as New England went 1-2 over his first three starts and the second-year signal-caller had two touchdowns with five interceptions. With him back to relatively full strength, reducing those turnovers will be key as he reestablishes himself as New England's QB1.