Although he isn't necessarily competing for a roster spot, Bailey Zappe had a rough night in Tennessee and didn't appear as poised as he did playing in place of injured Mac Jones last season.
Heading into the start of the offseason program this year, there were a lot of unhappy Patriots fans demanding Belichick switch up the depth chart and make Zappe the QB1. Because he performed pretty well during his rookie season while Jones struggled before and after his ankle injury, fans and media members caught Zappe fever and clamored for the young quarterback to be the starter moving forward.
Much of that debate settled during the summer, as Jones performed like the very clear QB1, and Zappe hadn't made significant strides to outshine him. But his performance on Friday night may have finally ended all conversation regarding who should be the Patriots quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Since most of the starters were held out of the game entirely, Zappe played well into the fourth quarter, other than two drives when Trace McSorley was put in before halftime.
By the time his night was over, Zappe recorded 8/15 completions for 57 yards and three fumbles, two of which he recovered. He didn't look like the poised quarterback we saw last season, despite being thrown to the wolves essentially against a difficult team like the Packers in week four.
He was also sacked four times for a loss of 25 yards, which is more so the story here.
The offensive line has been a consistent problem throughout the offseason. Whether it be because of injury or their inconsistent pass protection, the unit has been one of the biggest concerns about the team as they prepare for the regular season.
Because most starters remained injured or did not play on Friday night, Zappe was surrounded by a struggling line that made his job much more complicated than usual. It's not an excuse, as some may call it. It's simply a fact that directly impacted how Zappe played.
At the same time, though, his overall performance since the spring into the final preseason game makes it evident that he still needs to develop into a more reliable and confident player to remain a valuable backup to the Patriots and the NFL.