New England Patriots Zap Cleveland Browns to even record at 3-3

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 16: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots catches a pass while Grant Delpit #22 of the Cleveland Browns defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 16: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots catches a pass while Grant Delpit #22 of the Cleveland Browns defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots swept aside the Cleveland Browns 38-15 as predicted in this space using the time-worn formula of taking away the opposition’s biggest strength and winning the turnover battle big-tie with four.

In the process, rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe showed that he controls the offense and frankly should control the quarterback position of the Patriots, with or without a healthy Mac Jones.  There’s really no controversy here. Zappe is on a roll and he should start.

Zappe did what he needed to do to take out Cleveland and even the Patriots record. No offense to Mac, but Zappe has proven he deserves the top spot, rookie or no rookie. He’s taken control of the “new” offense and turned it into a strength rather than the early liability the unit was in the first four games. He looks like he’s run it for five years.

The unit still has a long way to go and the playcalling is still lacking and too vanilla with far too little deception, but Zappe is doing what he needs to do. He’s not making mistakes and he’s throwing touchdown passes rather than interceptions. Do those two things, and you have a chance to win any game.

Yet, unlike earlier in the season against Pittsburgh, the offense was unable to sustain a drive and keep the ball out of Cleveland’s hands. So, there’s still lots of work to do before the offense is anywhere near a finished product.

The New England Patriots defense does enough

The New England Patriots defense picked up another two interceptions and the opportunistic offense took advantage of the second and put the ball into the end zone.

Job one was to stop Cleveland’s terrific running back Nick Chubb. Chubb is too good to be stopped completely. He’s averaging 118 yards per game. But they held him to a measly 56 yards. Job one was accomplished.

If you can just limit his production you’re doing the job as a defense and have a chance to beat the Browns. The Pats’ defense did so for about three quarters before Chubb’s talent began to take its toll. No surprise there.

An aggressive defensive approach, how about that, was just what the doctor ordered for New England as they drilled old friend Jacoby Brissett relentlessly.

In the final analysis, absent a desperation fourth-down pass completion that ultimately produced a touchdown for Cleveland, it was enough because the offense is finally starting to show the capability they were expected to have earlier.

On special teams, the Patriots botched an on-side kick with six minutes left that almost cost the team the game. Brendan Schooler, take a bow for that flub up. Luckily, the review bailed the Patriots out of a possible game-altering miscue.

Schooler later redeemed himself with a fumble recovery on a punt followed by a blistering end-around run by rookie Tyquan Thornton (who also had a touchdown catch. Nice.) And wouldn’t you know, Nick Folk also finally missed a shorter field goal? There’s work to be done there.

New England Patriots offense under Bailey Zappe is rolling

As noted, Zappe is running the offense like an old pro. He threw for 24 out of 34 (70 percent), for 309 yards, with two touchdowns and critically important, no picks.

He’s got veteran poise, accurate throwing, great escapability, and obviously total command of this offense. Two games don’t make a season make, but now after three, Zappe has proven he’s the number one guy where it counts, on the field.

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Wins don’t lie and good performances don’t either. Zappe is doing both. Before his injury, Mac Jones wasn’t. Is it a tough call, possibly? But the NFL is all about one thing, and that’s W’s. You ride the winning horse and that guy right now is Baliey Zappe.

Zappe’s acumen and a good running game and a decent receiving corps, and you’ve got a chance to do some good things. And now, with Zappe at the helm, the tight ends are actually doing something with six catches today.

The offense was thought in this space to be the better unit before the season started. It wasn’t for the first five games. The defense carried the team and now the offense is starting to hold up its end of the bargain.

Next. Patriots QB Bailey Zappe showing Mac Jones his job is not secure. dark

The New England Patriots have a chance now in the AFC East. With Zappe, they now actually have an offense as well as a rather capable defense. The question is, will Bill Belichick stay true to form and run with the winning hand or defer to the former first-round pick?

Who knows, it’s going to be interesting to see. But one thing is certain, Zappe has helped turn the offense and the season around and to change things at this point could be very risky business.