There has arguably never been a rookie QB put in a better position to light up the scoreboard during his first start than this Sunday with Patriots rookie QB Bailey Zappe.
Bailey Zappe might as well have started last week. He replaced starting QB Brian Hoyer during the Patriots second possession of the game after Hoyer suffered a head injury on a sack by Rashan Gary. Officially it won’t go down as a start for Zappe, but after getting somewhat acclimated to the NFL last week through around four and a half quarters of play, Zappe will likely be getting the start this week.
Facing off against the league’s worst defense and carrying a fair amount of momentum after a close, exciting game last week, Zappe is in a position to put up some of the biggest numbers ever for a rookie QB during their first start. It’s very exciting, really. This could be an extremely memorable game. Make sure you don’t miss this one.
I’m still currently on the Mac Jones train. However, I think even all the other passengers aboard here with me would still love to see Bailey Zappe come out and post a 6 TD game, just like he was doing every week last year when he set the record for most passing touchdowns in a single season (62) at the collegiate level. I love Macaroni Jones and all, but if Zappe is capable of throwing 62 touchdowns a year at an NFL level… He’s our new starting QB. Simple as that.
Zappe would still have to put up an insane performance stat-wise this week for a QB controversy to develop truly. Fortunately for him, Sunday’s game against the Lions should be an absolute shoot-out, and he’ll have maybe the best chance anyone has ever had as a rookie QB making their first start to really turn some heads.
Personally, I think this game is going to be closer and lower-scoring than people are generally thinking it might be. My prediction is something like Patriots 27, Lions 24. With a modest stat line from Zappe, who won’t be asked to do much as the Patriots run the ball 50 times with their two-headed monster backfield. That being said, if Zappe comes out and rips a deep TD pass early, more passing plays would be called, and Zappe could end up putting in historical numbers against the Lion’s “Bishop-Sycamore-Esque” defense.
Concerning Mac Jones
If Zappe throws anything less than 6 TDs and 400 yards, I’m still starting Mac Jones as soon as he’s healthy. This brush with a QB controversy has probably lit a fire under his ass, and he’ll either play better than ever or worse than we could imagine. If Zappe can’t figure things out this week and plays poorly, Mac Jones could also either benefit from having less pressure on him or get worse knowing that his competition is limp.
It’s very much a coin flip either way, and it will be interesting to see how Mac Jones’ character develops over the coming weeks. This is when players show their true colors, and between McCorkle and Zappe, it will be highly entertaining to witness how this particular QB controversy plays out.
On a side note: McCorkle and Zappy sounds like the name of a classic Saturday morning cartoon.
I love both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe and wish them both nothing but the best. It’s too bad we can’t start them both. If I were GM though, I would’ve brought in another GM already… That GM being Eagles backup QB Gardner Minshew. That guy really should be starting somewhere in this league. He’s a beast.
First Career Starts For Modern-Era Patriots QBs
For the main section of this article, we’re going to go over the first career start for the following eight modern-era Patriots QBs: Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe, Mac Jones, Matt Cassel, Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Jimmy Garoppolo and, of course, Cam Newton.
Drew Bledsoe’s First Career Start: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills – September 5th, 1993 (Patriots 14 – Bills 38)
14/30, 148 Passing Yards, Two Passing TDs, One Interception, Three Sacks, Three Carries for Six Yards, Loss
Bledsoe was drafted by the Patriots first overall in the 1993 NFL Draft. He would immediately be thrust into a starting role and started 12 games as a rookie, including the Patriot’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills. A game in which the Patriots lost 14-38. His stats were modest during his early games, but he ended up being the leader of some of the most pass-oriented offenses in NFL history, throwing the ball 50-60 times a week on average during later seasons.
Tom Brady’s First Career Start: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots – September 30th, 2001 (Patriots 44 – Colts 13)
13/23, 168 Passing Yards, Zero TD, Zero INT, One Sack for Nine Yards, One Rushing Attempt for Two Yards, Win
The Patriot’s defense and running game both showed up in spades to support their young starting QB this game. The defense scored two TDs, and the Patriots rushed for 168 yards, making this a pretty easy game for a young goat. The Patriots defeated the Colts 44-13, and Tom Brady went on to have minor success in the NFL and is now the proud owner of the most official nicknames listed on any Pro Football Reference bio.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s First Career Start: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals – September 11th, 2016 (Patriots 23 – Cardinals 21)
24/33, 264 Passing Yards, One Passing TD, Two Sacks for Seven Yards, Four Rushing Attempts for 12 Yards, One Reception for Three Yards, One Fumble Lost, Win
Garoppolo got to sit behind the greatest QB ever to play the game for two years, which gave him more than ample opportunity to ready himself for his first NFL action, whenever it should arrive. It turned out to be during the 2016 season when Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games for deflategate.
During his third season in the NFL, Jimmy G got his first career start in the wake of Tom Brady’s suspension during Week One. He put up some of the best numbers on this list and proved himself to be more than a capable backup, especially after torching the Dolphins the following week before injuring his shoulder. He was traded to the San Fransisco 49ers to be their starting QB during the next offseason, with the results of such having been mixed and marred with injury.
Jacoby Brissett’s First Career Start: Houston Texans at New England Patriots – September 22nd, 2016 (Patriots 27 – Texans 0)
11/19, 103 Passing Yards, One Sack for Six Yards, Eight Rushing Attempts for 48 Yards, One Rushing TD, Win
Jacoby Brissett was first cast into the limelight during the 2016 NFL season, during the time in which Tom Brady was serving a four-game suspension for his ALLEGED role in the deflategate controversy. Jimmy Garappalo was the original starter for the Patriots but suffered a shoulder injury during the team’s Week Two game against the Miami Dolphins. Brissett stepped in for Jimmy G and started his first NFL game as a rookie in the Patriot’s Week Three game against the Houston Texans. The Patriots won 27-0 in another one-sided Patriots affair during the height of the Patriots dynasty in the season where they would go on to win Super Bowl 51.
Brissett only had somewhat serviceable stats but also displayed a lot of potential and raw talent. As a result of such, he was acquired by the Indianapolis Colts to be the team’s starter. He went 4-11 that season and has bounced around the league since, mostly as a backup. He’s currently the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns during the suspension and subsequent absence of Deshaun Watson. The Browns are 2-2 on the season under Brissett so far.
To avoid going over my word count and writing another “War And Peace,” I’m simply going to list the stats for the other four QBs chosen and then move into my concluding statement.
Matt Cassel’s First Career Start: New England Patriots at New York Jets – September 14th, 2008 (Patriots 19 – Jets 10)
16/23, 165 Passing Yards, Four Sacks for Nine Yards, One Rushing Attempt for Seven Yards, Win
Brian Hoyer’s First Career Start: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers – December 30th, 2012 (Cardinals 13 – 49ers 27)
19/34, 225 Passing Yards, One Passing TD, One Passing INT, Two Sacks for 18 Yards, One Rushing Attempt for Six Yards, Loss
Mac Jones’s First Career Start: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots – September 12th, 2021 (Patriots 16 – Dolphins 17)
29/39, 281 Passing Yards, One Passing TD, One Sack for 13 Yards, Loss
Cam Newton’s First Career Start: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals – September 11th, 2011 (Panthers 21 – Cardinals 28)
24/37, 422 Passing Yards, Two Passing TDs, One INT, Four Sacks for 19 Yards, Eight Rushing Attempts for 18 Yards, One Rushing TD, Loss
As you can see, there’s a ton of disparity between the first career games and various career paths concerning the eight aforementioned QBs. There’s truly no way to know how Bailey Zappe is going to perform this Sunday during his first start, and little consistency in terms of how his career may evolve afterward.
In all actuality, we should probably be leaving the predictions for this one to the most experienced orb ponderers.
Anyways, as always, GO PATS!
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