Bailey Zappe may have played himself into a role as QB1 for the New England Patriots. As tough as it is for me, a die-hard Mac Jones fan, to admit it, the performance of the Western Kentucky rookie in his first two NFL games has been exceptional.
Given the recent history of this franchise, the potential for a starting job battle between an injured starter and a young under-the-radar QB drafted in a late round gets Pats fans riled up.
First, Zappe went toe to toe with the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and almost pulled off a major upset against Green Bay, then shepherded the Patriots’ offense to a shutout victory against the Lions.
Compare that to the three games Mac Jones started this season, where they were overwhelmed by Miami and Baltimore and barely scraped together a win against Pittsburgh, arguably the worst team in the NFL right now.
Do the New England Patriots have another Brady/Bledsoe-type controversy on our hands?
We all know you can’t pin wins and losses directly on the QB, but Zappe has a better statistical resume this season than Mac, albeit with a smaller sample size.
Jones’ 76.2 QB rating ranks 29th in the NFL – just above Mitch Trubisky, Justin Fields, and Baker Mayfield. In Zappe’s two games, he’s reached a rating of 104.7, which would put him 5th on the list of starting QBs between Josh Allen and Justin Herbert (again, with the caveat that he’s only played in two games).
In Jones’ three games, he’s thrown five interceptions (9th most in the NFL) compared to two touchdowns (31st in the NFL). In Zappe’s two games, he’s already tied Jones with two touchdowns thrown while only managing to throw one interception.
These Zappe stats paint a pretty rosy picture of his performance, but that probably does not mean he’s taking Mac’s job.
The only reason that Pats fans are having this argument is because of the Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady elephant in the room. If this were another NFL franchise, this kind of debate would probably not be happening.
The New England Patriots quarterback job is Mac Jones’ to lose
Yes, Mac Jones had a pretty disappointing start to the season compared to the previous year. And given all of the hype surrounding him in the offseason, where Mac had supposedly gone up a level as a leader and was “in the best shape of his life,” you would’ve expected the opposite.
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But does that poor performance give Belichick enough cause to take Mac’s job away? Probably not.
As fun as these two Zappe games have been when Mac is healthy again, he will probably return to the bench.
But who knows, maybe Zappe has that dog in him and can challenge Mac for the starting job. If Mac misses more games and Zappe continues to get more experience, then maybe a larger discussion is warranted.
It’s also worth considering how this affects Mac’s development, assuming he gets his starting role back. The ankle injury, missed games, and potential quarterback battle that came with it, will certainly negatively affect his growth. That, coupled with continued strife from the change in play callers over the offseason, is a lot for Mac to deal with in his sophomore season.
But if Zappe does take the QB1 spot, what do I do with the two Mac Jones jerseys I bought? Can the suspicious eBay shop I bought them from exchange them for a Zappe jersey?