It was one thing to sit McJones after three, prevent him from establishing any sort of rhythm after four weeks out and invite questions about his standing in the locker room as a starter and captain. .

It was another thing for the Patriots defense to stand up on national television to a conservative offense with obvious limitations.

And it was a nightmare of the two that delivered a gut punch to the Pats on Monday night.

The Patriots lost to the Bears 33-14, a major setback that goes back to Bill Belichick. Most of Chicago’s offensive wrinkles—starting with making quarterback Justin Fields the centerpiece of its run game—were copied and pasted from the Ravens’ game plan in Week 3, when Lamar Jackson had more than 100 yards. I became the first quarterback to rush. Belichick coached Patriots defense. Fields could have been second if he wanted to on Monday.

Instead, the Bears opted for mercy, kneeling their final drive on the doorstep of the Pats’ end zone. Chicago ran circles around a slow-paced defensive front that hoped a simple game plan would win the day.

Against the Bears, the Pats played a season-high 23 snaps of the 3-4 base defense, a personnel group they’ve hardly featured all season. The Bears beat the Patriots’ extra linebackers to the corner, zipping by lumbering Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, Jamie Collins and Anfernee Jennings.

He averaged 5.6 yards per carry over left tackle and 8.8 yards when barreling from the right side, per Pro Football Focus. Flip those averages, and that’s exactly what the Packers posted in Week 4, when they attacked the Patriots’ perimeter defense in similar fashion. The Patriots had seen all these plays before, and couldn’t stop them.

While the Bears were fully committed to their plan, the Pats’ offense had Jones half-assed to start with the intention of eventually benching him. The Patriots hoped to bulldoze the Bears immediately with their run game — addressed by a series of stacked boxes and diagonal lines — and take the pressure off Jones and then Zappé. Instead, with a stalled run game and no Jones, the pressure came crashing down in the third quarter.

Stuck by a two-score deficit and unable to lean on their rushing attack, the Pats pulled the plug on Zappe’s secret sauce, the play-action pass. Zappe had gone 2-for-2 for 73 yards and a touchdown off play action in the first half, but now he was facing a Bears defense that knew the game rested on his shoulders. Not surprisingly, Zappe was expected to crush like a fourth-round rookie, going 9-16 for 76 yards and two picks in the second half, facing a pass on every possession.

The Pats couldn’t even run an effective no-huddle through Zappe and instead opted for run plays while trailing by 19 with about a quarter left. Belichick waved the white flag. He later said he prevented Jones from re-entering because the score had gotten out of hand.

But if Jones was healthy enough to start, he should have kept playing and finished. And if the Patriots were concerned about long-term injury risk, he deserved to sit until he was 100% healthy. Both Jones and the coaches seemed to manage the game with serious concern about re-injuring his high-ankle sprain and left a trail of examples of how half of his measurements during the quarterback’s 18 snaps Damaged offense.