Patriots turn to Bailey Zappe at QB against Chargers

ByMike Reiss ESPN logo
Sunday, December 3, 2023

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A little more than three months ago, quarterback Bailey Zappe was waived by the New England Patriots at the end of the preseason and faced an uncertain future. On Sunday, he stepped in as the Patriots' starter in place of Mac Jones against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.

Zappe finished Sunday's game 13-of-25 for 141 yards in a 6-0 loss to the Chargers. He was sacked five times.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick hadn't announced a starter leading into the game, but there were numerous indications he was benching Jones in favor of Zappe -- beginning at practice, when Zappe and practice-squad quarterback/receiver Malik Cunningham were taking top snaps.

Also, Jones didn't hold his weekly news conference, with Zappe instead addressing reporters Thursday.

"It's been crazy. It's part of the journey," Zappe said that day when asked about having been waived by the team. "It's been fun, a lot of learning, so I'm excited."

When Zappe had entered the locker room late Thursday afternoon, he was greeted by a large crowd of reporters awaiting his arrival and said, "All right, here we go."

"It's cliché to say it, but I try to prepare every week like I'm a starter as far as watching film, studying the plays and getting with the guys. So, for me this week is not any different," he said.

Zappe started two games last season when Jones was sidelined with a high-ankle sprain, helping the Patriots capture two victories.

He was 17-of-21 for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 29-0 home win over the Detroit Lions, and then was 24-of-34 for 309 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and one lost fumble in a 38-15 road win over the Cleveland Browns.

He believes that experience can be beneficial for him.

"Trying to limit turnovers. We were able to do that those two times and hopefully just trying to carry that over and do my job," he said.

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