As I sit here and type this, I can honestly say I never saw this coming. Like, not even a remote possibility. New England rookie QB Bailey Zappe is starting games for the Patriots, and he’s actually looked really good. Dare I say, he’s looked better than Mac Jones. Watching these last few weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in the Upside Down. I mean I absolutely HATED the Zappe pick back in April. I nearly wrote an article detailing how much I hated it. Thank God that blog never saw the light of day.
I was just never really impressed with Zappe in college. Sure, he had the things Bill Belichick typically looks for in a quarterback. He was smart, high football intelligence, very coachable. He had poise that you would expect to see out of a veteran signal caller. Zappe also had a weak arm in comparison to his peers, and athleticism that absolutely does not jump out at you. He was essentially the Walmart version of Mac Jones in college.
When the Patriots drafted Bailey Zappe in the fourth round, I was puzzled. Why spend such a high pick on a position you don’t have a need for. Especially a weak armed QB coming out of a smaller program like Western Kentucky University. Zappe is just the second quarterback ever to be drafted out of WKU, following New York Jets “legend” Mike White.
I guess there’s a reason though why I’m sitting here writing blogs and not currently employed by an NFL scouting department. Bailey Zappe caught New England’s eye, and he’s making the team very happy with their decision.
After Mac Jones sprained his ankle against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, dark clouds were seemingly forming over Foxborough. Things looked quite bleak. A Week 4 trip to Lambeau to take on the Packers saw the team hand the reigns to veteran Brian Hoyer for the time being. A concussion in the first half than dropped those reigns right in Zappe’s lap.
Bailey Zappe was having some fun out there pic.twitter.com/1h83vrWg0l— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) October 3, 2022
To say Zappe has a strong grip on those reigns would be an understatement. The rookie took over in the most difficult of circumstances and has done what no one thought was possible: succeed.
The rookie took Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to the brink in overtime. Despite the loss, it was an encouraging debut for Zappe. He has since followed that up with two consecutive wins over the Lions and Browns. Zappe became the first rookie QB since the 1950’s to win his first two starts and have a passer rating of at least 100 in both games. It was such an accomplishment that the NFL Hall of Fame even tweeted about Zappe.
Look out for @Patriots, who've won their last two games by a combined score of 67-15, with a rookie QB doing something that hasn't been done in more than 60 years.@Flagler_Health | @HOFHealth pic.twitter.com/kd4oD501D8— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) October 17, 2022
It’s not just that he’s winning. That would be one thing. Rather, it’s that he’s winning and looking good doing it. Like, really good. Like, create a QB controversy in New England good. Zappe took an offense that looked egregious, and has made it look actually reliable.
Bailey Zappe vs #Browns: 24-34, 309 yards, 2 TD— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) October 17, 2022
Behind LOS: 8-8, 27 yards
0-9 YDS: 8-14, 77 yards, 1 TD
10-19 YDS: 6-7, 155 yards, 1 TD
20+ YDS: 2-2, 50 yards
Play action: 7-8, 165 yards, 1 TD
Under pressure: 5-11, 57 yards#Patriots pic.twitter.com/75bQ7SNwfo
IT'S ZAPPE HOUR!!! ZAPPE TO HENRY, ANOTHER PATRIOTS TOUCHDOWN! pic.twitter.com/OqKeTd53Ur— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) October 16, 2022
So far this season, Zappe is throwing for 596 yards, 4 touchdowns and completing 72.9% of his passes. He has one interception, but that wasn’t even on him. He made a solid throw to Nelson Agholor, who lost the ball into the hands of a nearby defender. It’s always Agholor.
TYQUAN THORNTON WITH HIS FIRST CAREER TD!!! THIS TEAM IS HOT!!— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) October 16, 2022
Bailey Zappe's pocket movement was awesome on Sunday. Some high level QB play. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/ACbAxN2M2N— Brian Hines (@iambrianhines) October 18, 2022
I’m not kidding when I say I think he’s looked better than Mac Jones. Let me clarify. I’m not saying he is better than Mac, I need more time and evidence to debate that. I am saying though that this season, with this team, Zappe has looked better and more comfortable than Mac.
Bailey Zappe vs Mac Jones this season (@gmfb) pic.twitter.com/xrFCvCLees— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 19, 2022
So, here we are. I’m not sure how long this will last. Perhaps Zappe will pull a Cooper Rush and turn back into a pumpkin in a week or two. Maybe he’ll stay hot and steal Mac Jones’ job, Tom Brady style. I’m not here to debate all that, I’ll save that for another blog. What I can say is this: I believe the Patriots should ride the hot hand. There’s no need to rush Mac Jones back into action. Let his ankle heal 100%, and in the meantime ride this Zappe wave and see where it goes.
We can deal with the Mac Jones problem later on. For now, it’s Zappe Hour, and I’m totally here for it.
Featured Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images