This is not a Mac Jones bashing session, there’s been enough of that through the first 13 weeks of a horrid NFL season if you are a New England Patriots fan. If you are a critic, perhaps you are marveling at the demise of a franchise that dominated the NFL for two decades. Whichever side you stand on, everyone agrees at this point that a change had to be made.
That change is Bailey Zappe getting the start when the team dons those classic throwback uniforms in a Week 13 clash against the Los Angeles Chargers. With a 2-0 record in his career as a starter, the Western Kentucky product hasn’t shown anything in 2023 to suggest he is the answer at quarterback, so please calm that Zappe fever down a bit.
All he is at this point and time is another option for Bill Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in a season that has showcased a broken quarterback in Mac Jones. Again, not another bash post, but just saying. The offense needs a flow, consistency, hope, and perhaps Zappe preparing as a starter can at least make the offense look like it has a purpose. That is the expectation of the change, not that Zappe will be the second coming of Tom Brady…he’s had his opportunities.
Can the New England Patriots offense actually flow with Bailey Zappe?
While Belichick being Belichick and not praising any particular quarterback, he did touch on Zappe while addressing the media on Wednesday.
“He’s pretty consistent, about what it’s been all year. He’s pretty even-keeled, not a lot of roller coaster with him,” Belichick said, via the team’s official website. “He played some last year. There were sometimes where he was competitive, a little more experience this year. We talked about that in training camp. There’s growth in players from year one to year two, year two to year three, and sometimes year three to year four. So, we have young quarterbacks, and I’d say they’re both on a growth pattern.”
Okay, that last part is a little cringe worthy, given how both Jones and Zappe have seemed to regress, but I digress. With a 2-9 record, the Patriots' best hope is losing while remaining competitive. Whether the bigger need is at quarterback, playmaking receiver, or left tackle, the Patriots are in a position in the 2024 NFL draft to address two of those positions with impactful players in the draft. Rolling with Zappe indicates they are acknowledging another change coming for the franchise.
Whether Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Marvin Harrison Jr become the next hope to take the team into the future, the Patriots must also see what they have, who they have on this current roster who can also take the team forward. Again, the hopes aren’t high that Zappe is the answer, but can he get the ball to players who may be the answer?
Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte are out for this game, but are they both receivers who can grow into solid performers? What about 2022 second-round pick Tyquan Thornton? Will the next six weeks help define whether he is an actual bust or just one of those potential stars who start off slow?
As far as tight end goes, Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki probably won’t be back, but is Pharaoh Brown a player who can be more of an option in 2024?
There are a lot of questions to be answered, but at least Zappe will give the offense a chance to find some things out and perhaps score some touchdowns in the process.
It’s game day.