The Patriots clearly don’t want to say too much about Bailey Zappe in the media.
After all, the rookie has just two starts under his belt following Sunday’s 38-15 win over the Browns, and Cleveland’s defense – which allows 11th most yards per game – pulled the ‘awful’ descriptor immediately. after Sunday’s game from a local outlet.
Meanwhile, the debate over Zappe and starting quarterback Mac Jones is already heating up among fans and on local radio stations. The Patriots don’t need a major distraction after climbing to .500 after a lackluster start to the season.
“He has good instincts, but again he has a lot to learn,” Bill Belichick said after Sunday’s win. “He saw some things today that he learned from, and he was able to take advantage of that and make a few plays when he had the chance. It was a solid performance.”
In other words: slow down, everyone.
“He’s doing a really good job for us doing what we’re asking him to do,” added veteran center David Andrews.
Zappe, meanwhile, was quick to point the finger at his teammates.
“We have a very good core of receivers, we have a very good group of tight ends, we have a group of guys who can open up, a group of guys who can run routes and catch the ball, and make things after catching the ball,” he said. “And we showed that today.”
Zappe needed no time at all to pick up several Belichick-isms during his early media sessions. On Sunday, he dropped a “do your job” and said “the most important thing” is “just playing football on Sunday,” which sounds like a bar written by Belichick’s own ghostwriter.
Still, Zappe didn’t stumble and fall in a 24-for-34 passing performance. He didn’t accidentally rack up 304 yards and a pair of touchdowns with zero interceptions. His only business was a band bag. Five different players caught four passes. Five different receivers have completed passes for 21 yards or more, including a 53-yard completion for Jonnu Smith.
The Browns’ defense is porous, but the Patriots may struggle to contain Zappe’s seething excitement this week.
“He’s made a ton of improvement,” Smith said. “A guy there looks comfortable, really settles in and really tries to understand. He knows he has a lot to improve on, like all of us. I think just him having that mindset , he will continue to make a lot of progress.
“So hats off to him, he’s come in the last two weeks and done a hell of a job. I couldn’t be more proud of him, and he played his ass off.
A reporter asked Smith how Zappe has exceeded expectations so far. Smith seemed to catch himself stepping over the company line.
“I mean, he’s still a rookie man,” Smith said, drawing laughter from the assembled media. “We’re not going to sit here and f—ing… ’Zap the GOAT’, you know what I mean? But no, he definitely impressed the man. He just looks really comfortable.
“And is he going to watch this interview?” He wasn’t good enough. It must be better.
Zappe was asked if he’s had a chance to sit down and reflect on the madness of the past few weeks. He didn’t even come close to taking the bait.
“To be completely honest with you, I’m just taking my opportunity in training or whatever,” Zappe said. “To be taken week after week. Once we come back tomorrow and watch the movie tomorrow of this game, it’s really about the Bears.
Belichick must have been proud, though he probably wouldn’t admit it.
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