As rumors about Mac Jones’ future with the New England Patriots have swirled in recent weeks, the presumed starting quarterback’s backup is staying ready, just in case.
Bailey Zappe is preparing to make the most of any possibility Bill Belichick presents to him this offseason and in the upcoming – even a job as the team’s starting quarterback if his number is called.
“If my opportunity presents itself, I’m going to take full advantage of it,” Zappe told reporters at a youth football clinic in Rhode Island on Wednesday. “I’m going to do everything I can to help the team win.
“That’s really all I can say from that standpoint. That’s Coach Belichick’s decision, whatever he decides. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to be ready and take advantage of it.”
Bailey Zappe spoke today between drills as the @PatsFoundation held a youth football clinic at Naval Station Newport. He was asked by @NBC10_Joe about his mindset entering OTA’a and competing at quarterback. pic.twitter.com/VB1Lz7tRsf
— Bob Socci (@BobSocci) April 12, 2023
There have been some indications in recent weeks that Zappe could at least push Jones for the Patriots’ starting job in training camp. Belichick has yet to publicly say that Jones is the starting quarterback for 2023. When asked in his press conference the day after the 2022 season if Jones would start in 2023, Belichick said that Jones “has the ability to play quarterback in this league” but didn’t provide a clear response. He was asked again at the NFL’s owners meeting in March if Jones would be the starting quarterback. And again, Belichick didn’t provide a clear answer, saying, “Everybody will get a chance to play, and we’ll play the best players.”
In addition, there have also been reports that have indicated that Zappe has a stronger chance than you might think to be the team’s starting quarterback. Jones’ name has been mentioned in trade rumors as Belichick was reportedly upset with how the quarterback handled the 2022 season, allegedly contacting people from outside the organization for help while the offense struggled.
Jones struggled for a good deal of his second season in the league, throwing for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with an 84.8 passer rating in 14 games. Zappe started in Jones’ place for two of the games he missed, winning over Patriots fans as a rookie in the process. Zappe led the Patriots to wins in both of his starts, throwing for 497 yards, three touchdowns and an interception over those games. He also took over for Jones in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears, leading the Patriots to two touchdown drives upon his entrance before sputtering in the second half of an eventual loss.
Still, Zappe’s relatively strong play in the short amount of time he was on the field seemed to leave some people within the organization with questions. Following his retirement in March, Devin McCourty said that some players swung back-and-forth on who they thought should be the starting quarterback. Patriots coaches also didn’t think there was a “massive chasm” between Jones and Zappe by the end of last season, according to the Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breer.
So, it appears time might tell who is under center for the Patriots by the start of training camp and the regular season.
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