What Patriots QB Bailey Zappe said about replacing Mac Jones, increased reps in practice


“You’ve always gotta be ready, no matter what.”

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 08: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots attempts a pass during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Bailey Zappe has taken over for Mac Jones in each of the last two games. Winslow Townson/Getty Images
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Much like the Patriots’ dysfunctional offense, Bailey Zappe has found himself stuck in the same, frustrating script over the last two weeks.

For two straight weeks, Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense has imploded in grand fashion, prompting Bill Belichick to yank his QB1 off the field after relinquishing six turnovers over six quarters against the Cowboys and Saints.

Both times, Zappe has been tasked with trying to salvage any silver linings out of a Patriots offense that has orchestrated one trek to the red zone since Week 2 — and has only recorded one offensive touchdown over the last 10 quarters of play.

It’s an unenviable task, given both the state of New England’s roster and the insurmountable deficits that Jones and Co. have dug for the team’s backup QB.

Against Dallas, Zappe earned the nod with 3:04 left in the third quarter — with New England already trailing, 31-3.

During Sunday’s blowout loss against the Saints? Zappe stepped onto the Gillette Stadium gridiron with 13:03 to go in regulation — and the Patriots mired in a 31-0 hole. 

With New England’s season in a tailspin and a once-rudderless offense now floundering through five weeks, is it time to give Zappe an earlier run in Week 6 against the Raiders?

“I mean, being in my position, number two right now, you’ve always gotta be ready, no matter what,” Zappe said postgame after New England’s 34-0 loss to the Saints. “I mean, it could be the first play of the game, it could be the last play of the game. So I’m always ready and I’m the [No. 2], so that’s my mindset.”

Based on Bill Belichick’s postgame comments, it appears as though Jones will once again get the nod next Sunday when New England heads to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.

But after yet another dreadful start for Jones and New England’s offense, the case could be made that New England’s QB1 needs to operate with a much shorter leash moving forward.

“Yeah, definitely not an ideal situation for anybody,” Jones said of his message to Zappe before handing him the reins on offense. “As an offense, the goal is to play better and put up points. So we all have to do that and we’ve got to practice that way and do things differently and figure out how to put up points.”

Despite Belichick and New England’s apparent commitment to Jones as the team’s starter, the writing has been on the wall that the third-year QB’s once-established spot at the top of the depth chart might be on shaky ground at this stage of the season.

Even before Sunday’s disaster played out at Foxborough, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier that morning that Zappe was receiving more practice reps going into Week 5 against New Orleans.

“I mean, last week is last week,” Zappe said when asked if he received more practice reps. “We’re moving on to this week. Let’s see how this week goes.

“ Y’all know as good as I do,” Zappe added when asked if his practice reps will ramp up even further going into Week 6. “Find out Wednesday.”

Granted, even with Jones’s struggles, New England’s offense hasn’t necessarily received a jolt once Zappe has taken the reins.

After taking over against Dallas, Zappe completed just four of his nine throws for 57 yards, posting a 65.5 QB rating. On Sunday against the Saints, only three of Zappe’s nine throws were completed for 22 yards, with the second-year signal caller also missing on a few deep throws down the field.

“I mean, it could be a timing thing,” Zappe said of his overthrows. “Like I said, it’s up to me now to get with those guys and get extra reps. Get with those guys, like, [Kendrick Bourne] on the cross, figuring out the way he likes to run it.

“I could do a better job putting the ball out there, letting him catch and run with [it]. That’s all my fault. I gotta get better. I gotta make the throw. Maybe that comes down to getting those guys after practice or before practice this week.”

Yes, Zappe perhaps isn’t getting knocked for momentum-shifting interceptions or fumbles like Jones.

But for all of the chants of “Zap-pe!” radiating from the Gillette Stadium seats on Sunday, it remains to be seen if New England even has the personnel in place to revive that impotent offense this season.

“I mean, that’s up to the coaches to figure out,” Zappe said of the reasons behind New England’s offensive woes. “I’m worried about my job, and that’s to make throws and I missed two today that could have been really big plays. So like I said previously, I’m going to try to get with those guys and get everything down, timing-wise.”