Patriots try to temper Bailey Zappe praise, but ‘he definitely has impressed, man’

"We ain’t gonna sit here and f---ing … “Zappe the GOAT,” you know what I mean?"

Bailey Zappe
Bailey Zappe keeps impressing as he fills in for Patriots QB Mac Jones. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Patriots quite 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 after Sunday’s 38-15 victory over the Browns, and the Cleveland’s defense — which allows the 11th most yards per game — drew the descriptor “horrible” in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s game from a local outlet.

Meanwhile, the debate over Zappe and starting quarterback Mac Jones is already ratcheting up between fans and on local radio stations. The Patriots don’t need a major distraction after clambering back to .500 following a lackluster start to the season.


“He has pretty good instincts, but again, there’s a lot for him to learn,” Bill Belichick said following Sunday’s win. “He saw some things today that he learned from, and he was able to take advantage and make a couple plays when he had the opportunity. It was a solid performance.”

In other words: slow down, everyone.

“He just does a really good job for us doing what he’s asked to do,” veteran center David Andrews added.

Zappe, meanwhile, was quick to point to his teammates.

“We have a really good receiver core, we have a really good tight end group, we have a bunch of guys who can get open, a bunch of guys who can run routes and catch the ball, and do things after they catch the ball,” he said. “And we showed that today.”

Zappe needed no time at all to pick up on several Belichick-isms in his first few media sessions. On Sunday, he dropped a “do your job” and said “the biggest thing” is “just playing football on Sunday,” which sounds like a bar penned by Belichick’s own ghost writer.

Still, Zappe didn’t trip and fall into a 24-for-34 passing performance. He didn’t accidentally rack up 304 yards and a pair of touchdowns with zero interceptions. His lone turnover was a strip sack. Five different players caught four passes. Five different receivers racked up completions of 21 yards or more, including a game-high 53-yard completion to Jonnu Smith.

The Browns’ defense is porous, but the Patriots might have a hard time keeping a lid on the boiling Zappe excitement this week.


“He’s making a ton of improvement,” Smith said. “A guy back there looks comfortable, really settling in and really trying to figure it out. He knows that he has a lot to improve on, as we all do. I think that just him having that mindset, he’ll continue to make a lot of strides.

“So hats off to him, he came in the last couple weeks and did a hell of a job. Couldn’t be more proud of him, and he’s been playing 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 chuckles from the assembled media. “We ain’t gonna sit here and f—ing … ‘Zappe the GOAT,’ you know what I mean? But nah, he definitely has impressed man. He just looks real comfortable.

“And is he gonna watch this interview? He ain’t been good enough. He’s got to be better.”

Zappe was asked if he has had a chance to sit back and reflect on how wild the last few weeks have been. He didn’t even come close to taking the bait.


“To be quite honest with you, I’m just taking advantage of my opportunity in practice or whatever it is,” Zappe said. “Taking it week by week. Once we come back tomorrow and watch film tomorrow of this game, it’s really on to the Bears.”

Belichick must have been proud, even if he probably wouldn’t admit it.


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