A lot of people do not believe in moral victories in sports, especially inside of the Patriots' locker room, but when you take Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to overtime on the road with a third-string rookie quarterback, that must count for something.
Even though the Patriots lost in Green Bay last night, they did play one of their more complete games of the season. A big part of this was rookie third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe stepping up when his team needed him the most.
With Mac Jones being out for an uncertain amount of time, the Patriots went into the game with Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback. Hoyer then went out of the game with a suspected concussion in the first quarter. This forced Bailey Zappe into the game.
C/O to Patspulpit.com
With Green Bay already being ten-point favorites at home, Patriots fans were probably not too optimistic about having the rest of the game in the hands of a player who was just recently elevated from the practice squad. Surprisingly, Zappe ended up being one of the main sources of optimism throughout the game.
After his first NFL pass attempt fell incomplete, Zappe was up and down for most of the first half with some more incompletions and short, unimpressive completions as well as a fumble lost. After halftime, the Western Kentucky product started to turn things around, completing passes downfield to the likes of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry, as well as a twenty-five-yard touchdown pass to Devante Parker.
Although Zappe was playing the role of a game-manager with a run heavy offensive attack for the majority of the game, he showed some promise with having zip and velocity on his throws. The rookie also showcased his ability to roll out of the pocket and complete passes that way. Most of Zappe’s big completions were off play-action.
Besides the lost fumble in the first half, Zappe did a good job of protecting the football and not making costly mistakes,which has been a recent issue for the Patriots.
Zappe finished the game with ten completions on fifteen attempts, completing 66.7% of his passes, for 99 yards and a touchdown. The 137th overall pick also had a passer rating of 107.4 in the overtime loss.
Although these are pretty good numbers given the circumstances, Zappe was still not satisfied with his performance. In his postgame interview, Zappe said “It really comes down to me, I just got to make [more] plays”.
C/O to mlive.com
At this moment it is unclear who will be under center next week against the Detroit Lions, with some speculating that Mac Jones’ high ankle sprain isn’t as serious as everyone once thought. Jones was in fact seen on the practice field this past Friday. It is likely that Brian Hoyer will not be available as head injuries are being handled very cautiously in light of the Tua Tagovailoa situation. There are even rumors that the Patriots may be in the market for a free agent quarterback, but with the calmness and poise that Bailey Zappe exhibited in last night’s game, it would not be surprising if the Patriots just roll with the rookie.
Zappe is obviously already familiar with the Patriots’ offensive system, and his play at Western Kentucky shows that he can execute RPO’s, slant patterns, and screens. These have all been recurring patterns in the Patriot’s passing game so far this season.
Zappe’s college tape also shows that he can go through progressions and find the open man. He exhibits good pocket presence and has the ability to sense pressure, scramble, and even run for yards. Zappe seems to have a decent release and deep ball as well. So far, Zappe is proving to be worthy of a fourth-round pick and an insurance policy. The rookie should only improve and learn from this experience, going into a hostile environment and having some success is a critical step in his development.
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