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Bailey Zappe Patriots

Breaking Down Bailey Zappe’s First NFL Action

  • Justin Melo
  • October 3, 2022
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New England Patriots rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe unexpectedly made his debut in Sunday’s thrilling overtime defeat to the Green Bay Packers. Zappe entered the contest as New England’s No. 2 quarterback behind veteran Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was starting in place of Mac Jones, who continues to deal with a serious high ankle sprain injury. Hoyer exited during New England’s second offensive series. Hoyer was evaluated for a head injury and eventually downgraded to out. Zappe took over and flashed signs of promise considering the difficult spot he was catapulted into.

The No. 137 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Zappe finished 10-of-15 for 99 yards and one touchdown. Zappe was also sacked on three occasions and lost a fumble. Zappe’s first career touchdown was a 25-yard completion to DeVante Parker in the third quarter. Zappe placed a perfect amount of touch on the ball to hit a streaking Parker into the end zone. It was also the first touchdown pass by a rookie quarterback in the NFL this season.

There were also clear and expected operational issues given Zappe’s lack of experience and practice reps. The touchdown occurred on first-and-15 because the Patriots took a delay of game penalty. Zappe and the Patriots were lucky to avoid a second consecutive delay of game penalty on the touchdown pass. The play clock had clearly hit zero for approximately two seconds before Zappe took the snap and found a wide-open Parker. The Patriots got away with one.

Patriots play-caller Matt Patricia kept the training wheels on Zappe for the majority of the game despite his relatively impressive performance. The Patriots decided to lean on the one-two punch of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, who combined for 32 carries and five receptions. Harris and Stevenson accounted for 173 total yards of offense and a touchdown. Both ball carriers found ample room to operate. Harris averaged 4.8 yards per carry and Stevenson averaged 4.7 yards per carry as New England’s physical offensive line won the battle of the trenches. It was an understandable strategy spearheaded by Bill Belichick and Patricia given New England’s quarterback situation. The Patriots also didn’t have a backup signal-caller once Hoyer departed with injury.

Zappe averaged 9.9 yards per completion—his longest throw of the day was the 25-yard touchdown to Parker—and finished with a quarterback rating of 107.4. It summarizes an impressive debut given that Zappe became the first quarterback in NFL history to make his debut as a visitor at Lambeau Field and throw a touchdown in that contest. There arguably isn’t a more difficult stadium and atmosphere to be thrown into. Zappe showed terrific poise to handle the moment. He rightfully earned praise from his teammates and Aaron Rodgers at the conclusion.

“When a team drafts me, they’re going to get a guy that does everything to help his team win,” Zappe told The Draft Network exclusively in March.

Zappe certainly gave the Patriots an opportunity to execute the upset at Green Bay on Sunday.

Belichick will now monitor the status of his preferred two quarterbacks. Will Jones be healthy enough to oversee a must-win contest against the Detroit Lions in Week 5? Hoyer must be placed in the concussion protocol and is unlikely to start against the Lions. Zappe may find himself starting his first NFL contest. 

A week of increased practice reps and preparation would serve Zappe well. Zappe’s first action was far from perfect, but the Victoria, Texas native flashed moments of good quarterback play.

Written By

Justin Melo