It feels like Patriots QB Bailey Zappe is on the way to his first career start
Based on the latest reporting around the Patriots’ quarterback situation, those who have come down with Zappe Fevah may get their wish on Sunday.
Mac Jones continues to work his way back from a high-ankle sprain, but if the reporting from ESPN’s Dan Graziano is accurate, he’s still not ready to play just two weeks removed from the injury. Add that to Brian Hoyer leaving last Sunday’s game with a head injury, and it looks like rookie Bailey Zappe is in line to make his first career start.
“This time last week, there was some hope in the Patriots’ building that Mac Jones might be able to tough out his ankle injury and play in Week 4. That hope turned out to be misplaced, and checking in there this week it sounds as if Jones is unlikely to play in Week 5 as well,” Graziano wrote Wednesday. “Backup Brian Hoyer had to leave Sunday’s game to be checked for a concussion and did not return. All of this points to the possibility of Bailey Zappe making his first career start Sunday against the Lions.”
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Graziano added that the sentiment he’s heard from Zappe’s Patriots teammates about the quarterback’s first real NFL action was: “It wasn’t too big for him.”
Zappe posted a 107.4 passer rating while running a limited playbook, completing 10-of-15 attempts for 97 yards and a touchdown. But the biggest thing was that Zappe didn’t throw an interception and minimized the “What the hell was that?!” moments. In a situation that very easily could’ve unraveled for the team, they instead pushed the Packers to the brink at Lambeau Field. That’s why you’ve been hearing some “Moral Victory” talk this week.
Jones was spotted at Patriots practice on Wednesday, but didn’t seem like more than a limited participant. This video from NESN’s Zack Cox shows him moving gingerly. According to Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, almost all of Jones’ throws during media availability were made while stationary.
Meanwhile, Hoyer was not present at practice and appears on track to be listed as a non-participant. New practice squad addition Garrett Gilbert was there in uniform. Considering the NFL’s recent crackdown on head injuries after the disastrous handling of the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, it would be surprising if anyone who suffered a head injury last week were allowed to play this weekend.
So, it appears that Zappe has a big opportunity ahead of him. Fortunately for the rookie, he’ll have a pretty soft landing with a 1 p.m. home game against the Detroit Lions. Dan Campbell’s team has allowed the most yards per carry (5.6) through four weeks, so you can reasonably expect the Pats to continue to lean on their run game, and do their best to avoid putting the game in Zappe’s hands.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots runs to the huddle during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 02, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Patriots 27-24 in overtime. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
As you may expect, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave reporters NOTHIN’ on the quarterback situation during his Wednesday press conference. He deferred to the official injury report multiple times. When asked if Zappe would be starting Sunday, he replied, “Yeah, we’ll see. I don’t know, just take it day to day,” with a Belichickian smirk.
But the circumstantial evidence is mounting. The Lions may be about to get Zappe’d.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.