Once again, the Patriots are set to replace their first round QB with a late round unknown. He just doesn’t know it yet.
When Drew Bledose was knocked out of the Patriots week 2 matchup with the Jets in 2001, I was 4 years old. I can’t remember ever watching the patriots before that year’s improbable Super Bowl run. So growing up, I never knew another name at quarterback than Tom Brady. Sure, I eventually knew who Bledsoe was and what had happened, but he was always a footnote to the story of my idol.
But the older fans, my father’s generation, they knew exactly what it felt like to watch the savior of the franchise go down with a bad injury, only to be replaced by some random kid most people had never heard of. And then to watch that kid become the TRUE savior in Foxboro.
Now I know that feeling too. Or at least, I should.
I will confess that I was in the camp of “it’s Mac’s team when he’s healthy again,” but no longer. Zappe had only played bad defenses. Now he was able to play okay against the Chicago Bears when Mac was downright awful. Mac was playing behind a bad o-line. But the line looks just as bad for Zappe. Devante Parker was a bust…..until Zappe started to play. And just tonight, Mac’s team was getting blown out, until Zappe’s team came to life and took the lead before the defense was run off the field in the second half.
The simple fact of the matter is that, as I’d been claiming ever since Zappe Fever took over the fanbase, there is no QB controversy. The part I got wrong was who the obvious starter is. After Monday Night Football, the only controversy will be if Bailey Zappe ISN’T the starter going forward. Even after a poor second half, the decision isn’t that hard to make. Especially since a quarterback carousel is the easiest way to destroy any sense of team cohesion or success. Just ask the Browns ever since coming back or the Panthers last year who treated the quarterback position like a pitching rotation in baseball. Not exactly franchises one wants to emulate.
Let’s look at some stats to prove the obvious:
- 1-2 vs 2-1 (counting Monday Night)
- 65% vs 70.7% Completion %
- 797yds vs 781yds
- 2TD-6INT vs 5TD-3INT
- 70.7 vs 100.9 Passer Rating
This isn’t that hard. Mac has the pedigree, and maybe even the raw talent, but Zappe is just BETTER. He sees the field better. He feels the pocket better. His decision making is better. Yes, the game was still lost after Zappe came in, but so was that Jets game 21 years ago. And how poetic it is that the team that unleashed Tom Brady onto the world could and should be the same team that Bailey Zappe gets his first skill-based start against on Sunday.
Which brings us back to the opening thought. Mac Jones was supposed to be the next Tom Brady. But now? He’s the next Drew Bledsoe. Whether Bill Belichick stubbornly holds onto Mac as the starter for another week, it’s inevitable. Now he’s stuck sitting on the bench watching some nobody take all of his success while being forgiven for some of his failures. God forbid, if nothing else than for Mac’s already bruised ego, history repeats itself fully and Zappe wins a super bowl (or 6) and becomes the franchise icon.
Zappe has taken his job, and if he keeps up this level of play, just like Tom Brady before him he will never give it back. The only question now is if Mac can endure the slings and arrows of the media and holding the clipboard for his replacement with grace and a smile like Bledose did, or if he’ll try and force his way out and go it alone like so many spurned starters have done before him.