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Daily Patriots News 5/4: 5 Things to Know & NFL Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
3 weeks ago at 12:42 pm ET

Daily Patriots News 5/4: 5 Things to Know & NFL NotesDaniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Some Patriots news and notes on this Wednesday:

1) Fourth-round draft pick Bailey Zappe remains one of the more surprising selections by the New England Patriots in the 2022 draft, especially since the club had other needs as they continue trying to inject youth back into their defense.

The quarterback out of Western Kentucky was a surprise to most and probably a signal of worry for Jarrett Stidham, who may have seen the writing on the wall after that selection.

And Stidham probably should be concerned.  Zappe doesn’t sound like a player who is going to come in here and just be someone who takes his reps and quietly holds onto a third or fourth quarterback spot. He’s a highly competitive guy who it sounds like will be firing away on every rep to let it be known he can hang with Stidham, Hoyer, or even Mac Jones or whoever else is on the depth chart.

USA Today’s Henry McKenna caught up with Zappe’s coach at Western Kentucky, Tyson Helton, who talked about Zappe’s competitive fire and his approach. Zappe’s apparently the type of guy who believes in himself and feels like he’s as good or better than the guys around him, and he’s not afraid to come in and try to prove it.

“(Zappe) is definitely every single day trying to take another man’s job — no matter who that guy is in front of him,” Helton told McKenna. “I think it’s awesome that he has an opportunity to say: ‘OK, here’s an established starter in Mac Jones, who’s a very, very good player.’ I admire him as well. I think he’ll play for a long time and be very successful.”

“But I think you’ve got two great men at the helm that can make each other better every single day and compete every single day. Competition brings out the best in everybody. I think they’ll be great for each other and it’ll be great for Bailey to not have that pressure out of the game where he needs to be a starter. … There’s no question in my mind that from Day 1, he’s going to push whoever is in front of him.”

That sounds an awful lot like former Patriots QB, Tom Brady.  Brady came in during his rookie season in 2000 and made some noise in his first training camp and preseason, so much so that Belichick decided to carry four quarterbacks on the roster because he didn’t believe Brady would pass through waivers.

In year two, that progression went even further, with Brady surpassing Damon Huard on the depth chart and moving into the backup role behind Drew Bledsoe.  Obviously, Brady was forced into action after Bledsoe went down due to an injury and seized the role and the rest is, well, history.

Whether or not that will be Zappe remains to be seen but Jones is certainly no stranger to competition.  He held his own during all of last preseason against veteran incumbent, Cam Newton, and did enough to prove himself and ascend to the starting role.

Jones is also quietly a fiery competitor, which we saw quite a bit of throughout all of last season.  Jones might smile and laugh on camera, but on the field as things heat up, we’ve already seen that he’s dialed in and knows how to get the job done.

As long as that focus and success continues, Zappe’s best chance this preseason would be to finish ahead of Stidham and possibly Brian Hoyer, although it would be hard to imagine Belichick feeling comfortable enough to head into the season with just Jones and Zappe on the roster.

Either way, it sounds like Zappe plans on coming in and making it known he’s here to compete, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing.

2) Getting back to Stidham, it’s sort of unreal how he went from nearly being the guy, to being a forgotten man one year later during Jones’ rookie season.  Now it feels like he could be on the outside looking in during the coming months.

The fourth-year quarterback, who had a baby with his wife this offseason, is in the final year of his contract and may be on the move either by the end of training camp or before, depending on how the competition unfolds.

It’s still crazy to think that back in 2020, the team went through the entire draft without using a selection on a quarterback, which seemingly signaled Stidham would potentially get the nod heading into that season.

At the time, some people, including Chris Simms, felt that Stidham was even a more talented quarterback than Miami’s Tua Tagovaiola.  Simms made that assessment based on the fact he believed the Dolphins signal-caller benefited by playing with NFL-caliber talent at Alabama.

Even teammate Devin McCourty gave Stidham an endorsement, saying during an episode of his podcast two years ago that he felt that Stidham had what it took to lead his team.

“To me, the best thing for Stiddy was that he had to go against our defense every week. He didn’t have it easy,” McCourty said via ESPN. “I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we’d make eye contact and he’d just start smiling and laughing.

“To me, there were weeks where he was just on-point. And those were some of our best weeks as a defense, mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game, and I think put more pressure on us,” said McCourty.  “So I really admire just how hard he works, and then I’ve got to know him off the field as well. He’s a really good guy. Young guy, but very mature. He’s married. I think the Stidhams are going to be in New England for a long time.”

Instead, Newton was signed about a month before training camp began, with something seemingly happening internally where that door closed. There was no Stidham vs Newton battle like we saw with Mac Jones in 2021. Stidham just appeared to go through the motions and by the time the dust settled, he was back on the sideline with Brian Hoyer when the team took the field in September.

He didn’t even ascend ahead of Hoyer, with Hoyer getting the nod when Newton tested positive for COVID-19 and was sidelined in their meeting against Kansas City.

Stidham saw action on both the right and wrong end of blowouts, but never did enough to make the coaching staff believe he was a better option when Newton began to falter. According to reports, there was just too much negative seen of Stidham in practice where their minds were seemingly made up, and his window of opportunity to seize the role was simply shut.

Worse yet, the move to 17 games by the league along with taking away one preseason game likely damages his chances of sticking around even further. Bill Belichick now only has a limited amount of reps to see players in game action, so the number of snaps he’ll see likely just won’t be there.

Needless to say, any opportunity for Stidham to go down swinging are potentially a longshot simply due to the fact he won’t get the opportunity.

Then again, it already feels like his moment came, he just didn’t seize it.

As a result, whatever happened with him remains a mystery. Now the only question seems to be how long he’ll last or where he’ll be by the time September comes but his days with the Patriots definitely seem to be numbered.

Ryan Tannehill
David Butler II – USA TODAY Sports

3) Speaking of players who have a tough year head of them, it certainly feels like Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill falls into that category.

Tannehill has had a rough offseason following the Titans’ unexpected exit during the Divisional Round against the eventual Conference Champions, the Cincinnati Bengals.

In that contest Tannehill threw three interceptions, the final of which sealed the win for Cincinnati, who advanced and went on to surprise everyone by beating the Kansas City Chiefs.

But that 19-16 loss to the Bengals was tough on Tannehill, who he said was probably one of the worst he’s ever dealt with.  It left him in “a dark place”, to the point where he even went to therapy to try and get himself back in a good place mentally.

“It’s a deep scar,” Tannehill told reporters this week via ESPN. “Every time I closed my eyes I kind of rewatched the game. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep for weeks. I was in a dark place, and it took me a while, a lot of work to get out of it.

“I’ve worked through it, but therapy, talking to people, time helped. It took a lot of work to get through it.”

The quarterback apparently hadn’t been a regular when it came to going to therapy, adding that “This is the first time I absolutely needed it” to pull himself out of “a dark space”.

He’s likely heard the criticisms and the questions, with Titans fans likely tired of getting so close and coming up short.  Those concerns are likely extending to the coaching staff and front office, who gave the Titans QB a 4-year, $118 million contract in 2020, which included $62 million guaranteed.

Tennessee made some noise by selecting Liberty quarterback Malik Willis with the #86 overall selection, which adds a new wrinkle along with some additional pressure for the veteran signal-caller heading into this preseason.

To add to that head coach Mike Vrabel didn’t exactly give Tannehill much of a vote of confidence, saying simply that “We’re really just excited being able to develop young players and see what happens.  I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to talk about anybody’s future.”

Tannehill likely has a lot of work ahead of him but credit him for being open on how he’s dealt with his mental health.  It’s something that a lot of players clearly haven’t been open about so he may have quietly done some good for other guys who may have felt therapy wasn’t an option for them.

Obviously, Tannehill feels like it’s helped him, so hopefully, other players who may also be in their own “dark place” may now feel a little better about seeking that option for themselves.

4) Another layer to that situation is likely Tennessee’s surprising decision to trade wide receiver A.J. Brown on draft night, which saw him go to Philadelphia as the Titans picked up the Eagles’ 18th overall selection.

They then used that pick on Arkansas wide receiver, Treylon Burks.

Brown was coming off a productive season with Tennessee after catching 63 passes for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 games, which was down from his two previous seasons where he went for over 1000 receiving yards.  According to reports, he and the Titans were close to an extension as he was entering the final year of his rookie deal, which would have kept him in the Music City.

Instead, the explosion of the wide receiver market changed things, which apparently increased his demands and left the Titans in a position where they decided to send Brown to Philadelphia.

The now-former Titan told reporters this week that he wanted to stay, but money ultimately played a factor.

“This wasn’t my fault,” Brown told ESPN. “I wanted to stay, but the deal they offered was a low offer. The deal they offered wasn’t even $20 million a year. I would have stayed if they offered me $22 million”.

As for Burks, he’s certainly an exciting player.  The rookie receiver brings a lot to the table as he’s coming off a career-best 66 catches for 1104-yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 games during his final season with the Razorbacks.

Whether or not that translates into success at the next level remains to be seen but if it does, it certainly frees up a fair amount of money for the Titans to potentially address other needs in the coming years.

5) The NFL announced the teams who will be playing in Europe this year, which sets up a few clubs who will be at “home” across the pond in London in 2022.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, among those names will be the New Orleans Saints, who will be the designated home team in their contest against the Minnesota Vikings on October 2nd.

They’ll be followed by the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, who will play the next week on October 9th.

The final game will be between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos, which is set to take place on October 30th.

The Buccaneers will also be heading overseas as well this season, with Tom Brady and company set to take on the Seattle Seahawks in Munich, Germany on November 13th.

That game will reportedly take place at Allianz Arena.


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Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason
Tags: 2022 Patriots Draft A.J. Brown Bailey Zappe Brian Hoyer Cam Newton Jarrett Stidham Mac Jones New England Patriots Patriots news Ryan Tannehill Tennessee Titans Tyson Helton


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