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Patriots Notebook

Bill Belichick says Bailey Zappe ‘did some good things’ but doesn’t say he’ll start again

Ben Volin says Bailey Zappe is not the answer for the Patriots
WATCH: If you're a New England fan, you should keep rooting for the losses. The Globe's NFL writer explains why.

A day after Bailey Zappe replaced Mac Jones as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, Bill Belichick remained in wait-and-see mode when asked who will get the call for Thursday’s game against the Steelers.

On a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Belichick wouldn’t discuss any personnel decisions regarding Thursday, saying only, “We’ll talk more about the game plan here [later].”

But he did have some good words for the second-year quarterback, who finished 13 of 25 for 141 yards in his first start of the season.

“I thought he did some good things,” Belichick said during his weekly WEEI appearance. “Obviously, we didn’t produce any points offensively, so that wasn’t good. That wasn’t just him. That’s everybody. We’ve got to do a better job there, but no turnovers from the quarterback position, and there were some positive plays. We just need to make more.”


As a team, the Patriots continued a historic run of offensive ineptitude. They were shut out at home for the second time this season — the first time in franchise history they’ve been blanked at home twice in one year. Their league-worst 12.3 points-per-game average is threatening the franchise mark for futility; the 1990 team set the franchise low at 11.3.

On Sunday against the Chargers, the Patriots moved the ball on occasion but couldn’t crack the red zone. Belichick pointed to a number of things that prevented them from getting into scoring position.

“There’s a number of factors,” Belichick said. “A combination of not having enough explosive plays, not being able to do well enough when we got the ball into plus territory, and playing on a long field always makes it statistically harder to make long drives compared to short ones.

“So those are some of the things. I mean, in the end, when we get there, we’ve just got to do more with the opportunities that we have, and we get the ball in the scoring area.


“There’s no question we need to be more productive offensively. So just keep working on it.”

Meanwhile, the defense continues to keep things competitive. The Patriots have yielded one offensive touchdown in their last 11 quarters, have cut their points per game allowed from 26.2 to 21.2 since mid-October, and on Sunday, they became the first team since 1938 to lose three straight games despite allowing 10 or fewer points in each.

“It’s simple as doing your job,” said cornerback Jonathan Jones. “That’s the only thing you can do. None of the guys on defense are going to go over there and play offense at this point.

“Our job is to show up and play defense and just do our job, day after day, no matter what the task is — whether the offense scores 30 points or 3 points.”

There will be another challenge this week, as they prep to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

“It’s about rest, recovery, and physically being ready to go,” Belichick said. “Mentally, a quick turnaround from yesterday’s game to the Pittsburgh scouting report today and a couple of days of trying to get things covered.

“We’re pretty far into the season, so I don’t think there’s a lot of new things. It’s more adapting into what we do against what they do, which is different than what we’ve seen.


“It’s a quick, quick turnaround. Physically, be ready to go and be ready to compete for 60 minutes.”

“Physically, it’s tough,” Jones said. “You try to double down on everything that you can do as far as recovery, and then just mentally get as much information on the team as you can, and know that they’re probably going to keep it as simple as they can not having a long week.”

Work is paying off

Belichick did have some good things to say about rookie defensive end Keion White, who played 53 snaps (the second-most of his career) against the Chargers, in part because veteran Deatrich Wise Jr. was a late scratch with an illness.

“Keion is a hard-working kid,” Belichick said. “He’s out there every day. And that’s how you get better. Get better with being on the practice field, working on your techniques, your reads, your fundamentals, your keys. And then improving your techniques.

“He gets better every day and has improved over the course of the season. That’s a credit to his hard work and coachability.”

One rookie who might be trending in the wrong direction is linebacker/safety Marte Mapu, who has played just seven snaps in the last three games. On Monday, Belichick chalked it up to the fact that the Patriots are getting good production at the position with veterans Jabrill Peppers and Kyle Dugger, and called the third-round pick “a hard-working kid” who is just stuck behind a pair of established veterans.


Keion White (right) saw increased playing time Sunday.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

“We have pretty good depth at that position,” Belichick said. “Obviously Peppers and Dugger are two of our best players and two of the better players in the league at the position. Not really looking to get them off the field just to get playing time for somebody.

“[We] use players around guys like Dugger and Peppers situationally because you think they can help you in that situation in a certain package. That’s really what players need to do in situations like that: Develop an opportunity, and then be ready to perform well when those opportunities come to create more opportunities.”

Injury report

With the Patriots set to play Thursday, they sent out a hypothetical injury report Monday afternoon. Five players would have been classified as DNP: Kayshon Boutte (shoulder), Demario Douglas (concussion), Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle), Shaun Wade (illness), and Wise (illness). In addition, eight players would have been limited: Christian Barmore (shoulder), Chris Board (back), Trent Brown (ankle/hand), Ezekiel Elliott (thigh), DeVante Parker (knee), Riley Reiff (knee), JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle), and Sidy Sow (ankle).

After a one-game elevation, Malik Cunningham is back to the practice squad. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

A Judon return?

Belichick was asked about the possibility of Matthew Judon returning this season, and wouldn’t rule it out. “We’ll see,” he said. “That’s a medical question. We’ll see how that plays out.” Judon suffered a biceps injury in the Week 4 loss to Dallas . . . On WEEI, Belichick was asked about some recent comments made by Rex Ryan, who said the Patriot Way “exhausts” players. “I’m not really sure what he’s talking about,” Belichick replied. “Rex has never been with the Patriots. I’m not really sure what that means, either.” . . . The Patriots announced Malik Cunningham has reverted back to the practice squad . . . The Patriots had eight players — four on offense and four on defense — play 100 percent of the snaps against the Chargers. Included in that group was veteran center David Andrews, the only player on the roster not to miss a snap this season.


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him @cpriceglobe.