Bill Belichick Suggests This Patriots QB Won’t Start Vs. Giants

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Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe have been the Patriots’ top two quarterbacks in all but one game this season. But with Jones struggling and Zappe looking no better, could New England reshuffle the deck and start third-stringer Will Grier this Sunday against the New York Giants?

That seems unlikely, based on recent comments from head coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick was asked about Grier during the latest episode of the team-produced “Patriots All-Access.” He praised the 28-year-old’s work behind the scenes but said Grier mostly has been limited to scout-team duty and hasn’t had many opportunities to practice New England’s offense.

“(He’s doing) a little bit better each week,” Belichick told host Scott Zolak. “Just a little more familiarity with being able to run our plays. He just hasn’t had a chance to — you know what it’s like playing quarterback. The backup quarterback, you never get enough reps as it is.

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“So, that’s the backup quarterback, and then the third quarterback is even less than that. And when you’re new and you haven’t been here in training camp and had the full background of OTAs and training camp and a chance really to run our core plays, it’s just a lot to catch up on.”

The Patriots signed Grier off Cincinnati’s practice squad in late September after taking short-term fliers on Matt Corral and Ian Book. They seemingly were looking for a better backup option for Jones after cutting and then re-signing Zappe before the season, but Grier has not been able to climb the depth chart.

Grier, who has not appeared in a regular-season game since his rookie year in 2019, was designated as New England’s emergency third QB in seven of the last eight games. He was bumped down to fourth string in Week 6 during rookie Malik Cunningham’s one-game stint on the active roster.

“Will’s done a good job of it,” Belichick said. “There’s no issues with him. It’s just there’s only so many snaps out there. Your starting quarterback wants all the (first-team reps). You give some to the second quarterback, and the first guy feels like, ‘I wish I had those reps.’ The second guy needs some reps, and then you just run out of reps. Whereas in training camp, it’s a lot easier to spread those around. But it is what it is.”

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Belichick offered a similar review of Grier’s progress when speaking with reporters early last week.

“Will’s certainly improving every week in terms of understanding and working with his teammates and running the scout team and executing the plays that he has the opportunity to,” the coach said. “There’s just not a lot of opportunities for that, right now the third position, which is where he’s been. But he’s taken advantage of the ones that he’s had.”

It remained unclear as of Monday morning whether the Patriots planned to stick with Jones after their bye week or permanently bench the scuffling third-year starter. If they choose the latter, it sounds like Zappe, not Grier, would be the next man up.

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