“Zappe Fever” and the speculation about the New England Patriots’ quarterback position will soon be over. Once Mac Jones is healthy enough to return, he will resume his spot atop the depth chart over backup Bailey Zappe.
Thursday’s report by Jeff Howe of the Athletic confirming this did not come as a surprise. It will, however, still put an end to what has at times been rampant speculation about the Patriots’ QB1 gig.
The basis for all of that was the recent performance by Zappe after taking over as New England’s starting quarterback, and head coach Bill Belichick not publicly committing to one passer over the other.
A fourth-round draft choice earlier this year, Zappe opened the year as the third option on the depth chart behind Jones and veteran Brian Hoyer. When Jones suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 and Hoyer a concussion the next game, Zappe took over — and the league by moderate storm.
While he was unable to lead the Patriots to victory against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4, he did help them beat both the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns the following two weeks. Along the way, Zappe posted some solid numbers.
He completed 51 of 70 pass attempts for 596 yards as well as four touchdowns and one interception. In fact, he out-performed Jones from a statistical perspective: the starter went just 64-for-97 for 786 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. New England started the season 1-2, compared to the 2-0 record it accomplished with Zappe as the starter.
As for Belichick, he did neither confirm nor deny that Jones would return as starter. As was mentioned earlier this week, however, the lack of statements is par the course for New England’s head coach; he is not entertaining any hypotheticals when it comes to player injuries.
As noted above, the Patriots giving the keys to the offense back to Jones as soon as he is able to play again does therefore not come as a surprise. What is less clear is how soon this will happen, even though the 24-year-old is reportedly expecting to return as soon as Monday night against the Chicago Bears.