Updated: Oct 19
What a win for the Patriots this weekend in Cleveland! The Patriots led for the entire game and installed a perfect game plan on both offense and defense as they won by a score of 38-15. On offense, Bailey Zappe led the way with his best performance of the season, while a collective effort on defense completely shut down any momentum the Browns hoped to gain.
The biggest takeaway from this game was the performance by Bailey Zappe, in only his second start he threw for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns, both personal bests. He also had his first game without an interception and had a 71% completion percentage. From start to finish Zappe commanded the offense, displayed efficiently and showed confidence and poise like a 10-year veteran.
The clinic the Patriots put on defense stuffed the stats sheet. They would finish the game with 2 fumbles, 2 interceptions, 4 sacks and 8 pass deflections all from different defenders. Up front, Davon Godchaux had a great performance stuffing the middle of the line. He only had 1 sack and 1 tackle but his constant middle pressure was a huge reason Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were only held to 68 yards on the ground. In the secondary, Kyle Dugger has continued his crazy play with another interception and 2 pass breakups.
The Patriots are on their first winning streak of the season and are doing so in dominant fashion on both sides of the ball. Last week was a shutout with better than average offense and this week was a great performance on both sides of the ball. This team is really getting on a roll and they are doing it with the help of a very strong defense as usual. The surprise is their collective rallying around Bailey Zappe. No one would expect a revolt from the team against the 23-year old we're not saying that. What we are saying is that this kid has come in to the starting lineup and hasn't missed a beat. Before stepping on to the field, the Patriots were 1-3, since then they have gone 2-1 with a loss coming only to the Packers in overtime. Zappe has proven that within this system he can win football games and with yesterday's performance has also proven he can throw the football like an elite quarterback in this league.
As for Bill Belichick, with yesterday's win ties George Halas for the second most regular season and playoff wins by and head coach in NFL history at 324. Currently, Don Shula holds the top honor of 347, a mark Belichick has stated he'd like to surpass. That crowning would likely mean Belichick would need to coach an extra two seasons after this one, while playoff wins could earn him extra credit in that regards even though he has plenty of margin as the winningest coach in playoff history by some margin.
Mac Jones ankle injury seems to have progressed very well and he is questionable for next week. With Zappe's continued success it wouldn't be unreasonable for the Patriots to be extra cautious bringing Jones back too soon and sit him to let his ankle heal more. However, to Jones a certain amount of pressure must be building to get back on the field and prove he still deserves the starting job. Not only is he following in the footsteps of the greatest backup-QB turned starting quarterback ever Tom Brady, but he is a second-year, immature, 24 year-old QB playing on a team where the "next man up" philosophy is held stronger than any other team.
Look out for the QB battle to heat up this week leading up to the Patriots first prime time game when the Bears come to Gillette on Monday night. Also make sure to check in on Thursday when we have Patriots preview leading up to the game.
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