For nearly two decades, the New England Patriots were the definition of quarterback consistency with Tom Brady. Across his 19 seasons in New England, Brady only missed a total of 19 games. Since Brady has left, the Patriots have had four separate quarterbacks start games in that time period. Mac Jones, the 2021 first-round pick out of Alabama, was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie and has had a slow start to his second season before injuring his ankle and forcing him to miss weeks. In his place, the team trotted out Brian Hoyer to start against Green Bay and he lasted only one quarter before exiting with a concussion. In comes rookie Bailey Zappe and he has shined in his new role. He is the only rookie to win his first two starts in NFL history. This week he and the team stomped the Browns 38-15 off of Zappe’s 309 passing yards and two touchdowns to bring the Pats to 3-3. Does this mean there’s a quarterback controversy in Foxborough?
It is still a bit premature to say that the reins should be handed over to Zappe after two and a half games. However, the offense does seem to be hitting its stride with the rookie, and his passes do seem to have more zip and speed on them compared to Jones. Time will tell who will start on Monday night versus the Chicago Bears. As for the rest of the team’s performance against Cleveland, Rhamondre Stevenson continues to shine, with his 76 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton also had two touchdowns in his second game back from injury. The Baylor product had a 19-yard rushing touchdown and a two-yard receiving touchdown to go along with four catches and 37 yards, adding an element of speed that the receiving core desperately needs. The defense was all over Browns QB Jacoby Brissett, forcing three turnovers and allowing him to complete under 50% of his passes. Pats coach Bill Belichick tied George Halas for second on the all-time wins list with 324 and can pass Halas against his old team, the Bears, this week.
The Baltimore Ravens can not hold onto leads late in games. For the third time this season they blew a multiple-score lead in the fourth quarter. This week it was to the New York Giants on the comeback as they moved to a shocking 5-1 record. Baltimore went up 20-10 with 12 minutes to go off a Mark Andrews touchdown from Lamar Jackson. The Giants responded with a 75-yard drive and a Daniel Bellinger score. Jackson proceeded to throw an interception on the next drive and the Giants took it back to the 13 and three plays later, and Saquon Barkley punched it in to take the lead. Jackson then fumbled after being sacked and the Giants recovered. Daniel Jones did not have an eye-popping type of day, but he had no turnovers and was efficient, drastically improving from his first four years. A truly incredible statistic is that Baltimore has trailed for a total of four minutes this entire season and are 3-3.
To keep the focus on New York, the Jets are now 4-2 after man-handling the Packers 27-10. Rookie running back Breece Hall had an exceptional day with 116 yards and a touchdown. The Jets were very reliant on their running game, with Zach Wilson only completing 10 passes for 110 yards. The Jets defense was the story of the day, forcing Aaron Rodgers’ offense to punt seven times, one of them being blocked and returned for a touchdown, as well as forcing two turnovers. The lack of adequate weapons for Rodgers is glaring after the team traded away arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Davante Adams to Las Vegas.
The highest anticipated game this week was a rematch of the last playoff AFC Divisional game between the Bills and the Chiefs. Buffalo got revenge for their defeat in January by winning 24-20. The score may not have been the highest, but it was a classic shootout between Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. The two combined for 667 yards and five touchdowns. Stefon Diggs had another monster performance for Buffalo, catching 10 balls for 148 yards and a score. We seemed destined to have these two meet in the playoffs again this year.