Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t always poetic about his quarterbacks, but after rookie Bailey Zappe went 17-for-21 as a passer for 188 yards in a 29- 0 against the Lions, Belichick took an extra moment to congratulate the player. who replaced Mac Jones sidelined with an ankle injury.
“He does a good job of seeing the game and can detach and identify and articulate what he saw, what happened,” Belichick said. “And that’s generally true. What he saw is usually what I saw or – maybe, when you watch the movie – there’s something a little gray in there and his explanation is really good.
“Maybe maybe he didn’t do the right thing, but he saw the game.”
Before everyone gets too crazy about the 23-year-old, it’s worth noting that – when a reporter asked how unique Zappe’s football intellect was – Belichick was quick to say that Mac Jones was the same way last season. Belichick certainly didn’t come close to declaring Zappe the Week 6 starter.
But many of Zappe’s teammates were also impressed.
“I think seeing how he handled last week and that adversity and he really had a full week to prepare here, I think he did a great job managing the game, making the good calls, checks, things like that,” center David Andrews said. . “Making the right decisions, things like that, making good throws, doing a great job of protecting football. Did a great job.
Zappe joined Jakobi Meyers seven times on eight targets for 111 yards and a touchdown.
“He went out there and did his best,” Zappe said. “We just had to make sure we protected him, ran the ball well, caught him. So, like I said, shout out to the coaches to have a good game plan, and to call the right plays and for him to go out there and execute it for us.
The Patriots players were in high spirits after the win. The fans were too. As the clock ticked down, chants of “Zap-pe, Zap-pe” echoes across the stadium.
For his part, however, Zappe was careful to downplay his own contributions – instead highlighting how his side performed in the shutout victory.
“We played team football today,” Zappe said. “The defense threw a shutout. O-line played very well. The receivers played well. It was a team effort today, and it was good to get the win.
Some journalists tried to have color. How did Zappe feel when he heard a football stadium chanting his name?
“I like the support, but to be honest with you, I was just more excited about the win,” Zappe said. “Winning with my team was really the focus of this week. It was going to be the focus for the rest of the season.
Did he have a lot of friends and family on hand for his debut?
“Mom, dad and girlfriend,” Zappe said.
How was this week for them?
“To be completely honest with you, you might have to ask them,” Zappe said. “I didn’t ask those questions. They kind of left me alone, let me play football. So the most important thing is to focus only on football.
Obviously, in addition to learning the Patriots offense, Zappe also learned Belichick’s system for dealing with the media.
However, Zappe is not mistaken about the help he received. The defense held off a powerful Lions attack scoreless. Zappe’s offensive line was unshakable – he was never hit, according to the box score. The first touchdown of the game came courtesy of Matt Judon (who threw a fumble with one of his two sacks against Jared Goff) and Kyle Dugger (who caught the fumble and ran his first touchdown in career in the end zone). Nick Folk recorded 17 points and scored 5 for 5 field goals.
Still, Zappe was ready to go and said he felt significantly more comfortable on his first start. Whether he gets his second next week will no doubt be a major talking point on local radio stations, but he seems ready if the opportunity arises.
“It’s kind of like I’ve always been told,” Zappe said. “Take advantage of your opportunity. We had the opportunity today as a team to go out there and get a win, and we played very well.
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