If you had told New England Patriots fans that Bailey Zappe would be their starting quarterback this year after he was cut back in August, not one would have believed you -- but Zappe apparently knew it would happen.
During Amazon Prime's "Thursday Night Football" broadcast of New England's matchup with Pittsburgh Steelers, sideline reporter Kaylee Hartung reported that Zappe never had a doubt that he would end the year as the starting quarterback for the Patriots.
"Zappe said it was a wakeup call when he got cut by the Patriots in camp," Hartung said. "As he signed with their practice squad the very next day, he told [Zach] Kittley [Zappe's offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky], 'Trust me, I've got this. Eventually I'll be the starter."
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After being cut by the Patriots, Zappe reportedly had multiple teams interested in signing him, but ultimately chose to sign with New England's practice squad, believing it gave him the best opportunity to see playing time.
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Mac Jones had already seen a decline in performance from his rookie to sophomore season, but things were expedited for Zappe after Jones' third year turned into a disaster-ridden mess. Jones posted just 2,120 yards on a 64.9 percent completion rate, throwing 12 interceptions to 10 touchdowns as the Patriots started the season 2-9.
After Jones was benched in his final few starts, the Patriots shifted to Zappe full time in their 6-0 Week 13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
While Zappe's first start on the year didn't end with a win, the Patriots seemed rejuvenated. Things continued to improve for Zappe in Thursday night's game against the Steelers, where he became the first Patriots quarterback since Tom Brady to throw for three first half touchdowns since Tom Brady in 2018.
In the first half, Zappe also completed a 37-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster for the Patriots' first 30+ air-yard completion -- the Patriots had previously gone 0-18 on such attempts and were the only team without such a completion.
Zappe finished completing 19 of 28 passes for 240 yards with three touchdowns and an interception to lead New England to a 21-18 upset victory.