Patriots QB Bailey Zappe needs his Good Will Hunting moment before Week 18

The Patriots lost to the Bills in Week 17 but not all of it was Zappe's fault.
Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe has a bit of Brett Favre in him, it seems. Maybe Zappe makes a mistake or three, but he keeps throwing anyway, as a gunslinger should. Quarterbacks need to be like great closers in baseball: Forget what negativity happened before and do better in the future.

Zappe couldn't have started Week 17 any worse, throwing three interceptions by early in the second quarter. But coach Bill Belichick stuck with him when some other coaches might have said, "I've seen enough." Of course, that either tells us exactly how little the Patriots think of Mac Jones, or the team really wants to give Zappe a chance to be QB1 in 2024, and the only way of that happening is for him to work through any issues in the lost season of 2023.

But here is the thing about Zappe's picks in Week 17: at least 2 of them were not completely his fault. His third interception was a pick-six by Bills cornerback Rasul Douglas, but Zappe made the right read. He was under duress, knew there would be quick pressure, and made the hot throw, which should have been an in-route, but receiver Jalen Reagor kept going as if he was running a post.

Zappe threw the ball as he was taught and was the right read; the receiver just didn't help him and needed to be more aware of what was happening behind him.

Bailey Zappe does a bit of a Brett Favre impersonation

On Zappe's first pick, he attempted to force the ball to tight end Mike Gesicki, and the Buffalo Bills made a good play on the ball to bat it up in the air and was eventually caught by defensive lineman Ed Oliver. Maybe the pass was ill-advised, but the interception was a bit of a fluke. Oliver has one interception in his career, and that came against the Patriots in Week 17.

The second interception was completely Zappe's fault. He attempted a slant pass to Demario “Pop” Douglas that was completely covered and was an easy interception for Douglas. Maybe the receiver could have fought for the ball a bit more, but that's just being nit-picky. Zappe should own that interception.

The point to all of that is that hopefully someone on the Patriots staff had a Good Will Hunting moment with Bailey Zappe this week and told him that most of his interceptions were not his fault. Zappe seems to be young enough to handle the ups and downs without the same self-awareness of a veteran trying to earn their next contract while supporting a growing family. Zappe needs to simply keep throwing the ball and not thinking about what happened in the past.

Zappe might never be more than a long-term backup quarterback. But the fact that he shook off those interceptions and came back to lead a touchdown drive and keep the game close means he is mentally able to handle the worst that happens. He is worth keeping on the Patriots roster whether he is QB1 in 2024 or not.

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