The New England Patriots defeated the Cleveland Browns 38-15 in a dominant display that sees the Patriots’ record get back to .500 (3-3) for the first time since Week 2 (1-1). QB Bailey Zappe started his second straight game for New England as Mac Jones is still recovering from a high ankle sprain he sustained in Week 3’s 37-26 loss to the Ravens. However, the defensive side of the ball proved to be just as big of a talking point in this game for the Patriots. Therefore, what are the key points we should take away from New England’s dominant Week 6 win in Cleveland?
Zappe Makes History
Rookie QB Bailey Zappe had his best game thus far in his short NFL career against the Cleveland Browns. The fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky University went 24-34 on his passing attempts and threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Zappe had a passing completion percentage of 70.6% and a career-best 118.4 QB rating. According to Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston, Bailey Zappe is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win and post a 100+ QB rating in each of his first two starts. This excludes the 107.4 QB rating that he received when he came in for injured backup QB Brian Hoyer in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4.
Against the Browns, Zappe was trusted with the ball significantly more than he had been in the previous two games against the Packers and Lions. Away to Green Bay, Zappe had 15 passing attempts, then 21 at home to the Lions, and now 34 at Cleveland. Clearly, head coach Bill Belichick is beginning to trust Bailey Zappe to throw the football and the third-string quarterback is proving he is the man for the starting job. Whether Mac Jones will return from injury next week against the 2-4 Chicago Bears is up for debate. Still, Zappe’s consistent performances will pressure the second-year Alabama product to fight for his starting spot.
Parker and Thornton Impress
The Patriots wide receiver duo of DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton had excellent performances against the Cleveland Browns, a welcome sight for New England fans. For years the Patriots have desperately needed big and fast threats on the outside, and that is exactly what Parker and Thronton brought to the table in Week 6. Parker was targeted six times and had 64 receiving yards on four receptions, a promising output given that he was always a dangerous threat down the field throughout the game.
However, rookie Tyquan Thronton had the breakout game that he has been looking for after being sidelined since August due to injuring his collarbone. The first-round draft pick out of Baylor had four receptions on five targets for 37 yards and a touchdown while adding three rushing attempts for 16 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Thornton’s blistering speed was evident when he flew by the Browns’ defense with ease on a 19-yard jet sweep touchdown in the fourth quarter. Perhaps New England has the threat on the outside that they have been looking for with DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton.
New England’s Defensive Dominance
The Patriots’ defense knew the task at hand when they came into the matchup with the Browns: stop Nick Chubb at all costs. The star running back had averaged 6.05 yards per carry heading into Week 6, which was the sixth-best rate in the NFL. However, New England completely thwarted the Browns’ run game which forced Cleveland into a one-dimensional offense, according to Dakota Randall of NESN. Chubb had 56 yards on 12 carries, averaging only 4.6 yards per carry.
Putting pressure on the quarterback was also a difficult task for the Patriots going into this game as the Browns’ offensive line was ranked the second-best in the NFL. After only allowing one sack all season before Week 6, the Patriots recorded four sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery with another fumble being recovered in the fourth quarter by the special teams. New England rushed seven or eight men on nearly every play to pressure QB Jacoby Brissett, which inevitably lead to forcing him to throw two picks and fumble the ball late in the fourth quarter.
New England will hope to build off of two great performances in a row against the Lions and Browns to find a third-straight victory against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football next week.
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE