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Patriots Rookie QB Thrown Into Lambeau Fire: ‘Dream Come True’

Patriots rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe demonstrated both confidence and competitiveness in pressure situations in Sunday’s Week 4 loss to the Packers.

Picture, if you will, a third-string, rookie quarterback being activated for the first time in his brief NFL career.

His team’s starter is inactive while recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered during their previous week’s loss. The veteran signal caller, chosen to start in his stead, is forced to leave the game with a head injury after just two offensive series.

The rookie is called upon to take the ball against one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, in arguably its most hallowed cathedral, with no discernible option on the roster to relieve him, if necessary.

Talk about ‘trial by fire.’

To say the least, Patriots first-year quarterback Bailey Zappe entered the NFL unders daunting circumstances. However, New England’s fourth-round draft selection in the 2022 NFL Draft handled the situation with both poise and promise despite their 27-24 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau field.

“Of course, it was exciting at first. It was a dream come true to play in an NFL game,” Zappe told reporters after the Pats Week 4 loss. “First, I give credit to my teammates. They kept me calm, they kept me…getting the nerves out of me. They kept me in my space; cool, calm and collected.”

After a bit of an understandably shaky start, Zappe settled down. He led the Patriots on consecutive scoring drives in the third quarter, including his first career touchdown pass; a 25-yard toss to receiver DeVante Parker.

“I felt comfortable with that play,” Zappe said of his end zone connection with Parker. “We all talked about it on the sideline and came out there and executed it well. I was able to play pitch and catch with the receivers and, like I said, we were able to execute those plays.”

Along with the scoring strike, Zappe finished the day completing 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards. Still, there were moments when he looked the part of a rookie who is still finding his identity as a pro quarterback. Zappe was sacked three times, totaling 24 yards in lost yardage. In addition to his troubles with recognizing pressure, there were also moments in which he showed some difficulty in maintaining his accuracy; especially when throwing on the move.

Still, the Western Kentucky product refused to excuse his performance based on a perceived lack of preparation. In fact, he is planning on using his shortcomings as his primary means for improvement.

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“As far as being prepared, I’ve been doing this for like the last three weeks, just preparing myself as I’m going to play,” Zappe said. “I feel like that’s one way I can continue to learn, continue to grow as a player. Treating every week that way. And I really didn’t prepare any differently this week. I did my normal stuff, met with coaches, watched film, met with teammates, did all that stuff.”

Like Jones and Hoyer, Zappe is a strong logistical fit within New England’s offensive style. The 23-year-old has a quick release and is an accurate, short-to-intermediate passer when throwing in rhythm. Against the Packers, he moved well within the pocket and demonstrated both confidence and competitiveness in pressure situations.

While it may not have been enough to defeat the Packers on Sunday, Zappe realizes that improved execution will yield positive results.

“It’s obviously not the outcome we wanted at all,” Zappe remarked. “And, everyone played well tonight. O-line played well. We ran the ball well. It really just comes down to me. I need to make more plays and the outcome is different.”

It is still too early to determine the identity of New England’s starter for their Week 5 matchup with the Detroit Lions on Oct.9. Though Jones has made significant progress in his recovery, he has yet to participate in practice. As such, his status remains uncertain. Hoyer, on the other hand, will continue to be evaluated for his head injury throughout the week. While it may be possible for either Jones or Hoyer to get the start, Zappe has proven himself worthy of consideration for the job, as well.

In true Patriots fashion, Zappe is eager to get back to work.

“Just to continue to do my job,” he replied when asked about his approach to the week ahead. “Give the ball to playmakers and let them do what they do best out in space. Continue to stay cool, calm and collected back there … run the offense and just do the best I can for the team.”

New England is expected to return to the practice fields on Wednesday to begin preparations for their 1 p.m. kickoff with the Lions on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. 


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