Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe appeared on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego” show on Monday evening, touching on a variety of topics including his performance against the Chargers, his uncertain future in New England after training camp, and more.
Here are a few highlights from Jones’ extended radio interview:
New England’s new QB1
For the first time since Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season, Bailey Zappe earned the starting nod under center for the Patriots on Sunday — with Bill Belichick and Co. hoping that a switch at QB could provide the spark needed to get New England’s offense rolling.
But even in a matchup against a Los Angeles defense giving up a league-worst 282 passing yards per contest entering Sunday afternoon, Zappe and New England’s offense were left toothless at a rainy Gillette Stadium by way of a miserable 6-0 loss.
Even though Zappe served as a breath of fresh air for New England’s offense by not committing any turnovers against the Chargers, he only completed 13 of his 25 pass attempts for 141 yards and zero touchdowns.
“I would say there were good and bad things,” Zappe said of his performance. “Of course, in every game, there’s both. I would say that, of course, we didn’t come out with what we wanted as a team — that was a win.
“So I would say looking back, there’s a lot more things that I can learn from and grow from. Missing a few balls, ball placement, stuff like that.”
After an ugly first half where Zappe only recorded 39 passing yards, the second-year QB seemed to settle down over the final two quarters of play.
Even without Demario Douglas (concussion protocol), Zappe moved the ball on several drives thanks to a few connections of 20+ yards with DeVante Parker, while a deep ball intended for Tyquan Thornton in the third quarter slipped through the receivers’ grasp.
“Yeah, I would say so as far as — that just comes from preparation throughout the week when you know kind of what they’re trying to do against you,” Zappe said of settling in during the second half. “And just being able to understand it pre-snap and post-snap and what they do, and it just kind of slows it down for you.”
Zappe wasn’t helped by a poor showing from New England’s offensive line — with Los Angeles recording five sacks in the win. But even with injuries and pass-protection issues hampering New England’s offense, Zappe said that he’ll need to execute better if he gets the starting nod again on Thursday against the Steelers.
“There’s some things that I can fix,” Zappe said. “But that’s the great thing about where we’re at right now. We got these next few days to get back out and practice and learn from it and get ready for Thursday.”
Assessing his options
It’s been an interesting season for Zappe, who was cut by the Patriots at the very end of training camp after Mac Jones solidified his spot as New England’s QB1.
Ultimately, Zappe opted to re-sign with New England and join the team’s practice squad, where he has shuffled between that group and the active roster before earning his spot as the team’s starting QB against the Chargers.
Even though Zappe opted to remain in Foxborough even after being cut at the end of the summer, the 24-year-old QB reportedly did have a chance to start anew with several NFL teams.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero noted that Zappe was “in demand” after New England cut him, with seven teams handing him offers before he decided to re-join the Patriots.
So why did Zappe opt to stay put?
“I felt like for me, my best opportunity was to learn from Coach Belichick, to learn from Coach [Bill O’Brien], and I felt like that was the best fit for my career: To stay here,” Zappe said on Monday. “Have the opportunity to play.
“Have the opportunity to stay with these guys that I’ve built relationships with. And I think the main thing was to just learn from the coaches that we have here. I think that was the best fit for my career and for the future — for whatever happens for me.”
Even though Belichick was tight-lipped about New England’s starting QB in the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Chargers, Zappe acknowledged on Monday that he knew “during the week” that he was getting the start.
As for whether or not he will start again on Thursday against the Steelers?
“I’m not sure,” Zappe said. “I’m sure Coach Belichick will tell us that this week sometime. But I’ll keep that — like last week, keep it private. We’ll keep it private this week.”
Zappe opted to take a page out of his head coach’s book when pressed about whether or not he thinks he deserves to start a second straight game.
“I can’t answer that for you,” Zappe noted. “That’s Coach Belichick — whatever he thinks is best for the team and then he’ll make that decision. And if it’s me, I’m gonna go out there and do the best I can.”
A helping hand
Zappe’s ascension as New England’s QB1 comes at the detriment of Jones, who spent Sunday’s game on the sideline after getting bumped down on the depth chart.
The 2023 season has been a disaster for Jones, who was benched for the fourth time in 11 games during New England’s 10-7 loss to the Giants on Nov. 26.
Before even with his tenure as New England’s starting quarterback coming to a close, Jones still served as a valuable resource to Zappe ahead of the latter’s start against the Chargers.
“He helped a lot as far as the preparation throughout the week,” Zappe said of Jones. “Kind of seeing it from the outside of me watching film, him watching film, sometimes I pick up on things, he picks up on things, and we just kind of combine minds with all four of us. Me, Will [Grier], Malik [Cunningham], all of those guys.
“We just, whatever one of us sees [something], we tell the other and he helped a lot, especially in the game. If he saw some things, he let me or [Bill O’Brien] know. … He’s a good teammate. I think, between both of us, we both want to win, and that’s the main thing. We’re going to do, whoever’s out there, we’re going to try to help each other out to achieve that goal.”
Zappe brushed aside talk of a scenario where New England’s roster is split between which quarterback to support moving forward.
“No, not at all,” Zappe said. “I think we’ve done a really good job this year of staying together as a team, both offense and defense, and I’ve, from my standpoint, have yet to see any division between anybody right now.”
Conor Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.