Since it was clear that Mac Jones would likely not remain as the starting quarterback for the Patriots this year, there were questions about whether Bailey Zappe was the right one to step into his role. Although he performed well in his absence last year, he didn't blow anyone away with his performances, and that remained the case throughout the training camp this summer.
It's allegedly what led to Bill Belichick deciding to waive the young quarterback during roster cutdowns, as Jones had clearly won the job for the season. But since they couldn't carry just one signal caller for the year, Zappe was re-signed to the practice squad and eventually became the starter.
Upon taking over for Jones in his first game against the Chargers, he's had an up-and-down few weeks. It started with an embarrassing loss to the Chargers, with Zappe unable to lead the offense into field goal range to even tie the game, to winning two of the next three games over the Steelers and Broncos.
The win in Denver was the most impressive of the four games, as Zappe led the charge down the field on a game-winning drive to steal the win. But concerns from the previous games remain, with even the most supportive fans of the quarterback worried about whether it is enough to keep him as a backup.
The Patriots' biggest concern with Bailey Zappe is his inability to finish out games
The game that stands out the most is the win against the Steelers. Yes, they managed to leave Pittsburgh with the W, but Zappe's dramatic fall in performance from the first half to the second brought up the issue of his ability to play consistently for a full 60-minute game.
That's one question Hall of Famer Kurt Warner shared he has when discussing Zappe's future not just with the Patriots, but in the NFL. The player-turned-analyst became a source of contact for the young quarterback when the Patriots initially cut him. The pair have spoken a bit since then, hence why Warner was asked about him when speaking to MassLive last week.
"I don’t know where he belongs, either, and I don’t think we have to rush to judgment on where these guys belong. I think with Bailey, his physical skill set, that’s kind of the one thing you say to yourself: ‘Can he carry a team with his physical skill set?’ Because that’s what truly separates the starter from the backup. Can he be that guy every time out that if he has to throw the ball, can he win games for you? That to me is a starting quarterback in the league.
And right now, I think Bailey’s done enough to say, ‘I belong.’ Now, give me a shot to see where I belong. Give me a shot to see if I can be that guy or not.”
To be the guy or not to be the guy, that is the question.
With two games left in the 2023 season, Zappe will have a couple more chances to demonstrate why he can be a solid addition to the Patriots roster moving forward or another team if they go with a complete teardown of the roster in the offseason.
Based on how he performs, it will be interesting to see if it alters Bill Belichick's draft strategy since they have a prime position to select their (hopefully) next franchise quarterback. If Zappe can overcome the weaknesses causing the most concern, perhaps they choose to go in another direction and take a guy like wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. or offensive tackle Joe Alt.
It's another storyline to monitor heading into the offseason, that's for sure.