PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK BAILEY ZAPPE
December 27, 2023
Q: So, when you start preparing here for Buffalo what are you seeing from the defense that will give you some challenges?
BZ: Yeah, I mean, they're well coached from top to bottom, from the D-line to linebackers to the secondary group. They're well coached. They understand that system. A lot of those guys have been there for a while now. And then you look at some of those guys, like [Jordan] Poyer and Micah Hyde. Those guys have been playing for 11 years. So, a lot of those guys have a lot of experience and a lot of games under their belts, where they understand how to disguise, how not to disguise, and kind of hide some of the things that they're doing. So, it's going to be a tough challenge for us to see what they're doing versus us and just execute what we're trying to do.
Q: How much would you like to ride the momentum of what you guys were able to do in Denver? And with that, what kind of things did you learn about yourself and the team as you go about another week here?
BZ: Yeah, of course, you would love to ride that momentum. I mean, we're playing a great Bills team and they've been rolling the last three weeks. So, it's really just going to come down to us executing what we're trying to do as an offense. And then some of the things that looking back versus the Broncos, there's a few misreads that I had. I had Pharaoh [Brown] on one route that I missed him on, just little things like that can affect the game. So, just trying to dial that in and get ready for practice today and tomorrow and Friday and try to fix some of those things.
Q: Bailey, I know you didn't play in the matchup against the Bills earlier this season, but what did you take from the sideline about what they do well on defense and what can you bring into this Sunday?
BZ: Yeah, I mean they play hard. They're front four, those guys, they're coming after you. So, it's going to be up to me to try to see the defense pre and post-snap and try to get the ball out. Like coach always says, you can't make any yards until I get rid of the ball. So, that's going to be up to me to kind of see what they're trying to do. It's going to be hard because those guys play really well. They've played for a long time. So, it's going to be a lot of film watching and trying to get an understanding of those guys.
Q: Bailey, we were talking to Coach [Bill] O'Brien yesterday and he said that you worked with Evan Rothstein on pocket movement and stuff like that a lot. I'm just wondering what kind of goes into that routine for you?
BZ: Yeah, I mean we usually do that stuff every day before practice. We get out there 15, 20 minutes before, have the bags and he kind of walks out there and tells us what drills he wants us to do. But we're pretty routine about it. We do it every day. The more you do it, the more it becomes like second nature to you. So, when you get on the field and you're not really worried about it or thinking about it. It kind of just comes natural, and that's what you want. You don't want to be back there worried about the rush. You want to be able to have your eyes downfield. So, that's really helped a lot, doing that stuff before practice.
Q: Bailey, when did you start becoming more comfortable with some of the things that Coach O'Brien brought to the offense this offseason?
BZ: I would say in training camp, I felt like I started to get a good sense of the system. I mean it's not –
the verbiage and some of the things are of course different than what we did last year. But, of course, the more weeks that I was in the game planning and the games and now playing in the games, of course, getting comfortable with him and how he likes to call plays, it's helped a lot. And the more practices and of course the more games I play with him calling it and game planning with him, I kind of get a sense of how he likes to do things and attack things. I think both of us are only going to get more and more comfortable with each other.
Q: How different is the system with Bill compared to what you feel operated in the past?
BZ: In college while I played, I was in the air raid. So, it's totally opposite. I think we ran the ball like ten times a game. I threw it about 50. So, that's one of the biggest differences, and then just the different concepts. Of course, everybody kind of runs the same routes, but just a different way of putting two concepts together and how you read it, of course that's different. And then, play calling is a little bit different, a lot longer plays. We'd have like ace 95 in college. I mean, that was a play, and they don't have that any more in the NFL. So, I think that's another thing that's different. But I enjoy it. It's fun.
Q: Speaking of fun, what's the atmosphere like for you in Buffalo, from the bus ride in where they're kind of getting on you guys, to being out there on the field in that atmosphere?
BZ: It's going to be exciting. These two teams, these two organizations have been going at it for a long time. I don't think there's any – I don't think either one like each other very well. So, it's going to be fun to get out there and play against that great team and that great organization. It's going to be fun. That's what football is all about.
Q: How would you describe Bills Mafia?
BZ: I mean, they get after it. They love football. They love their Bills. So, it's going to be loud. It's going to come down to communication for us. So, that's going to be a big part and a big emphasis for us throughout this week.
Q: A little bit off the grid here but we're coming up on New Year's, I'm curious do you have a resolution, and would you be comfortable sharing it?
BZ: To be honest with you, I haven't thought about it. Yeah, I'll get back to you on that.
Q: And on the Pharaoh Brown play where you were talking about that play, when was that? Or do you recall what part of the game?
BZ: It was in the fourth quarter. I think it was right hash, I can't remember what yard-line. I think it was like the second or third or last drive. But it was just something for me that I missed.
Q: Did you feel like you were a little rushed on that read? Because it was a spot concept, right?
BZ: Yeah. Honestly it wasn't anything besides me. I was kind of rushing. I was in the mentality of I didn't want to sit back there too long because I knew those guys were going to be either blitzing or rushing hard to try to get a sack. For me it was just I sped up my process too fast and if I don't do that maybe I hit him for a big gain and right then and there the game's over. But I didn't, so that's something that I need to learn from.
Q: What stood out to you about working with Pharaoh Brown?
BZ: He's a great guy. He's tough. He's physical. You can kind of feel his presence when he's on the football field because he's always finishing blocks. He plays to the echo of the whistle. He has great hands. I think he actually is very talented in the passing game as much as he is in the run game, too. To be able to use him like we have on some of those seams like he caught this past game and things like that is a game that he can do. It's nice to have a guy like that in a tight end room of course.
Q: Bailey your first couple road starts this year. You've obviously been thrown into some tough environments. Pittsburgh, Denver, primetime. How do you feel like that has helped you as a player, changed you as a player?
BZ: It's fun. That's exactly what football is all about. You want to go in those environments. You want to go in and play some tough teams. Winning of course makes it a lot better. Of course, this is going to be another great environment to play in. Like I said these two teams of course don't like each other. It's a great rivalry so just got to go in there and play our brand of football.
Q: What is it about DeVante Parker that's allowed you guys to have such a great connection so far and going back to last year as well?
BZ: DeVante is one of those guys that I fully believe in when those 50-50 balls… it's kind of how we connected versus the Broncos to where I have the confidence in him to really put it wherever I want and that he's going to go get it. It's either going to be incomplete or it's going to be a big gain for us. He's been doing that his whole career. To be able to see that again versus the Broncos is a beautiful sight to see him go up there and make those catches. If we ever get that matchup again, I don't know if we will after the game he had, but if we do hopefully we'll take advantage of it and I'll throw another one up there too.
Q: You've had to play without DeVante, without JuJu [Smith-Schuster], without Hunter [Henry], without DeMario [Douglas]. How do you continue to adjust to the different personnel as far as pass catchers?
BZ: We've done a great job with the next man up mentality. A lot of guys have stepped up. They've done a phenomenal job. They've come in and they've understood the game plan. They've ran great routes. They've caught the ball. They've made plays. That's really the only thing you can ask for. I think we have great depth in all of our running back rooms, tight end rooms, receiver rooms, and of course the O-line room. We have great depth and every single guy that has had the opportunity to play has taken advantage of that opportunity.
Q: Bailey, you're going to make a misread on the field. What's your process for learning what you need to learn from that miss without clouding your judgment on the next drive or slowing down your process too much because you overthink it?
BZ: I think to start it off you go off to the sideline and you have your IPads and that's when you figure out maybe I read it wrong. Maybe I stayed at the corner too long instead of seeing what the safety was doing or I did vice versa. It really depends on how you're reading a certain play. Mainly like that, just trying to remember where you started with your eyes and maybe fixing or tweaking it a little bit on how they're playing, because some defenses, of course, they make adjustments. The first time you run a concept in the first half they might run a different coverage than they do in the second half. You just kind of have to adjust to it.
Q: You're just trusting your eyes in the next drive? You're not really thinking about that specific mistake?
BZ: Yeah, 100%. You've got to trust your eyes. If you stop trusting your eyes then you're going to do what I did and not get the ball out quick and sit back there and miss a read. You've got to trust what you see and go with it.