Mac Jones

Bill Belichick pulled Mac Jones during the first half of the New England Patriots 33-14 Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears and the quarterback may have ESPN to blame.

Belichick made the decision to play rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe after Jones threw an ugly interception to Bears safety Jaquan Brisker. But upon reviewing the interception a little closer, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed shared video evidence that appears to show the ball making contact with ESPN’s SkyCam wire.

According to the NFL rulebook, if the pass from Jones did make contact with the SkyCam wire, the play should have resulted in a dead ball rather than the interception that got the quarterback benched.

“If a loose ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately,” the rulebook states. “And the down will be replayed at the previous spot.”

Normally, the ball striking an object is a challengeable play, but because it occurred on a turnover, the interception was only subject to booth review. Belichick, a noted rulebook aficionado, didn’t appear to argue the play at the time, so even if he was able to challenge the play, the Patriots head coach didn’t seem inclined to do so.

Instead, Belichick responded to the interception and potential ESPN interference by pulling Jones from the game. It’s difficult to confirm whether the ball was interfered with by ESPN’s SkyCam and it’s impossible to determine if the wire caused the interception. But it will be interesting to see if that pick turns out to be a defining moment in Jones’ NFL career.

Despite leading New England to the playoffs as a rookie last season and earning Pro Bowl honors, the future of Jones as the Patriots starting quarterback is in doubt. And just like ESPN broadcasting Sam Darnold’s “seeing ghosts” comment derailed his quest to become the New York Jets franchise quarterback, will a SkyCam wire do the same for Jones and the Patriots?

Update: Shortly after this post was published, ESPN issued a statement claiming their SkyCam wire did not interfere with Jones’ pass and was more than 15 feet above the ball despite how it appears in the video.

[PFF]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com