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MORSE: Patriots Position Analysis – Quarterback, Missing Players at OTAs

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
3 weeks ago at 10:37 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Patriots Position Analysis – Quarterback, Missing Players at OTAsEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

We break down the quarterback position in today’s edition:

Mac Jones – Entering his 2nd year, Jones has lost his Offensive Coordinator, Josh McDaniel.  The Patriots and Bill Belichick refuse to name a play-caller.  They have former NFL Head Coaches Joe Judge and Matt Patricia who could potentially call the plays.  Judge (QB Coach) and Patricia (O-line) have experience in coaching, but not on Offense.  A long-shot play-caller could be Nick Caley (TE coach).  I have another theory.  What if the Patriots are going to allow Jones to call his own plays?   It’s absurd to let a 2nd-year player make his own calls, but who knows the playbook better than Jones.  Mac is obsessive with preparation.  Who expected Jones to play as well as he did in his rookie year?  Jones has come to OTAs in great shape.  Gone is his pot belly per Kendrick Bourne.  He was in the building during the off season, working with Moses Cabrera and the team Nutritionist Ted Harper.  Jones stated in his OTA interview on Monday “For me, cleaning up my diet — I’ve probably learned more this offseason than I ever have about my diet, sleep, nutrition, wellness, all that stuff.”  He also went on to explain that he has been working with QB guru Tom House.  I expect big things from Jones this season.  I am not concerned with who is making the play calls.  I just hope that every game is not a shootout.  The Defense scares the hell out of me.

Brian Hoyer – Tremendous backup quarterback and mentor to Mac Jones and now Bailey Zappe.  Hoyer will become a coach with the Patriots once his playing days are done.  The only question is how many QBs make the final 53-man roster.  In the recent past, it has been only two.  I don’t think Bill Belichick wants to go into the season with a rookie QB as a backup.

Bailey Zappe – The rookie QB from Western Kentucky broke the single-season TD record of 62 with 64 TDs last season.   According to Kevin Tame of Fan Nation’s Patriots Country, one big backer of Zappe is former NFL GM, Randy Mueller.  He began his front-office career in 1983 as an assistant in pro personnel with the Seattle Seahawks and served in the front offices of several NFL teams. Over the course of 35 years, he also spent time with the New Orleans Saints in 2000, Miami Dolphins in 2005, and the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers in 2008.  He was named NFL Executive of the Year in 2000 while with the Saints. Mueller liked Zappe before the draft, via this ringing endorsement in early April:

“I think if he was two inches taller he might be vying for the first quarterback being considered in this draft,” he said. “He is accurate. He is comfortable in the pocket. He has plenty of arm strength to go with anticipation and, for my money, can make all the NFL throws needed to be successful. I see similarities with other 6-foot-tall quarterbacks who have been successful in the last decade in the NFL.”  Zappe has been compared to Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.  “The fact he has the vision and anticipation from the pocket. … he trends more in that line just because of that anticipatory skillset.”

Here are Zappe’s numbers in college:

    Passing
SEASON TEAM GP CMP ATT CMP% YDS Y/A TD INT QB RT
2017 HOUBAP 1 21 34 62% 199 5.9 0 0 77.9
2018 HOUBAP 1 27 49 55% 226 4.6 2 1 72.3
2019 HOUBAP 1 27 37 73% 300 8.1 2 0 114.7
2020 HOUBAP 3 106 169 63% 1453 8.6 12 1 111.4
2021 WKENT 14 475 686 69% 5967 8.7 62 11 119.5
AVG (2017-2021) 4 131.2 195 67% 1629 8.4 15.6 2.6 99.2
TOTAL 20 656 975 8145 78 13

As you can see, Bailey took advantage of the liberal Transfer protocol and the COVID year exemption by transferring from Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky.  He followed his Offensive Coordinator Zach Kittley from Houston Baptist to Western Kentucky to play for Head Coach Tyson Helton.  Helton was responsible for Sam Darnold’s development at USC, as he served as QB coach and Passing Game coordinator.  He also developed Mike White at Western Kentucky.  That’s now three drafted NFL QBs.  Kittley parlayed Zappe’s great success (62 TDs, 5967 yards, and 69% completion percentage) into a new Offensive Coordinator position at Texas Tech in 2022.  Kittley previously worked his way up from Graduate Assistant to full-time coach at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury from 2013- 2017.  He assisted in the development of Pat Mahomes.  You can see the similarities of these QBs to Zappe and the coaches that helped develop them.

It’s not unusual for Belichick to draft a Quarterback.  Here is a list of QBs that Belichick has drafted:

  • 2002, fourth round: Rohan Davey (LSU)
  • 2003, sixth round: Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech)
  • 2005, seventh round: Matt Cassel (USC)
  • 2008, third round: Kevin O’Connell (San Diego State)
  • 2010, seventh round: Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State)
  • 2011, third round: Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
  • 2014, second round: Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
  • 2016, third round: Jacoby Brissett (North Carolina State)
  • 2018, seventh round: Danny Etling (LSU)
  • 2019, fourth round: Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)
  • 2022, fourth round: Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky)

 

At the very least, if Zappe works out, they have a solid backup they have under control for 4 years.   They could then trade Zappe as they have done with Jacoby Bissett and Matt Cassel.  I find it interesting that Belichick drafted Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals Head Coach), Kevin O’Connell (Head Coach Minnesota Vikings), and Zac Robinson (passing game coordinator for the LA Rams).  All three are great offensive minds.

The training camp roster is void of a 4th QB.  I think they need another live arm on the roster as the drain on the top three would be tremendous.  They have the room since they are still at 85 players on the roster.  Former Practice Squad QB Garrett Gilbert was released by the Las Vegas Raiders.  However, loyalty is a big thing with the Patriots, and signing off the Patriot Practice Squad with another team may be held against Gilbert.  When they get to the dog days of practice the Patriots will want to give the QBs a day off.  Having that developmental type or veteran backup is a must.  Colin Kaepernick isn’t doing anything.  I don’t know if he can play anymore but he sure would make it interesting, especially for the media.

Who is not at OTAs?  

N’Keal Harry and Isaiah Wynn are notable absences.  Add to the list Tent Brown.  None of this is good news.  Wynn has missed half the games played in the last 4 years.  He is playing on his 5th-year option for over $10M.  He is the 4th highest-paid Patriots player this year.  As far as Left Tackles in the league he is the 17th highest paid.  The consensus is that Wynn id on the trading block to free up more cap space.  We still haven’t signed all the draft picks because they don’t have the cap space.  Brown had practiced at Left Tackle during the 1st OTA and Justin Herron moved to RT.  The last two years, Brown has also had injury issues and has only played half the games.  Yodny Cajuste worked as Left Tackle in Brown’s absence.


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Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2022 Patriots OTAs Bailey Zappe Brian Hoyer Mac Jones


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