The New England Patriots lost big time against Baltimore in game three of 2022. They not only lost the game but also their young quarterback, Mac Jones with a high ankle sprain. That’s not a good injury anytime.
Jones will be out for weeks if not months and surgery is possible. The likely choice to replace him will be long-time veteran backup, Brian Hoyer. And he would be the wrong choice.
New England used a 2022 fourth-round draft pick on a quarterback, Bailey Zappe earlier this year. That’s not a premium pick but it’s not a throwaway pick either. What it says here is they should take a chance and go with the young guy and see what he can do.
Here are a few reasons why this makes sense.
The New England Patriots should roll the dice with Bailey Zappe
First, the New England Patriots aren’t that good a football team anyway and with Jones out for an extended period, they are probably going nowhere fast. Hoyer isn’t going to change that.
Journeyman Hoyer is a smart guy and a nice safety valve for fourth-quarter mop-up duty but as a starter, he’s not taking them anywhere. They are headed to third place in the AFC East and that’s only because the hapless Jets are in the division. Otherwise, they’d be headed for last place.
If the Patriots had a bonafide backup, maybe it would be worth going with that guy to try to salvage a season that after three games is already looking lost. But there isn’t one.
With Jones out for an indeterminate number of games, their season is now effectively over. Even with Jones performing less than satisfactorily himself, they had slim hopes of a playoff spot.
Without him, absent a miracle of sorts and history repeating itself, they will be fortunate to finish with five or six wins. That’s why going with the rookie is the best option. Zappe should be the choice.
Why the New England Patriots best option is to start and play Zappe
The Patriots personnel operation, such as it is, felt he was good enough to be a fourth-round pick. They should thus feel that he’s good enough to be thrown into the fire right now against the Packers on Sunday.
If not, then the pick was squandered as many of their other higher picks over the past five or six years have been. And it’s not like their offense is really very sophisticated at the moment. It’s ridiculously simple, predictable, and vanilla. So, what about Zappe?
Bleacherreport.com had this to say about him,
"He consistently operates with very good timing and an understanding of the concepts being run. Zappe throws with anticipation (mostly out of necessity), getting the ball out well before his receivers break and giving them plenty of room to operate after catching the ball."
If Zappe can’t run this offense even now, that pick was a waste (as well as a reach) and he’ll be gone in a year or two anyway. It says here, give him a chance.
As far as history repeating itself, veteran New England Patriots fans need only hearken back to 2001 when a fresh-faced kid wearing No. 12 stepped in for a seriously injured Drew Bledsoe and took the Patriots all the way to their first Super Bowl title with five more to follow.
Will lightning strike in Foxborough again in 2022? It’s unlikely, but, who knows? Maybe Zappe seizes the moment and lights it up against Green Bay and subsequently energizes a languid Patriots team stumbling toward the bottom of the AFC East.
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Maybe he gives them the spark that Jones hasn’t thus far in 2022. His two touchdowns and five interceptions in the first three games were hardly lighting up the NFL. In addition, should they finish with a poor record at least they’ll receive a higher draft pick.
Zappe’s senior season was no slouch either. Last year for Western Kentucky he was a star. Here’s what nflprospects.com noted,
"… Zappe to throw for an NCAA single-season record 5,967 yards and 62 passing touchdowns. The 2021 Conference USA Most Valuable Player and first-team all-league selection also ranked seventh in passing efficiency and ninth in completion percentage (475-of-686, 69.2 percent, 11 INTs; 51-17-0.3, three TDs rushing in 14 starts). Zappe was also named the Boca Raton Bowl MVP, passing for 422 yards and six scores in the team’s win over Appalachian State. — by Chad Reuter"
Patriots Nation is unfortunately not likely to see Zappe given the keys Sunday to this simple and predictable offense to try to rev up its engine and get it to perform. Yet, in reality, there’s really nothing to lose.
You never know when lightning might just strike again and he’ll do something special. You just never, ever know.