FOXBOROUGH — Two weeks after being inactive for the Patriots’ Week 3 game against Baltimore, Bailey Zappe not only started for New England at Gillette Stadium but led his team to a decisive 29-0 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The fourth-round draft pick completed 17 of the 21 passes he attempted for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Debut performances aren’t necessarily predictive of a quarterback’s future, but here’s a look at how some other New England passers fared in their first career NFL starts:
Date and Place: Sept. 19, 1971, Schaefer Stadium
Result: Patriots 20, Raiders 6
Stats: Plunkett completed 6 of 15 passes for 127 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Notes: The No. 1 overall pick in the 1971 draft started Week One. Playing against his future coach John Madden and future team, Plunkett threw touchdown passes to Ron Sellers (33 yards) and Roland More (20 yards) to open the year on a high note.
Date and Place: Oct. 26, 1975, Schaefer Stadium
Result: Patriots 24, 49ers 16
Stats: Grogan was 12-for-20 for 128 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Notes: The fifth-round pick out of Kansas State had seen some action in games backing up Jim Plunkett earlier in the year, but this was the first one that he began the game under center. The Patriots opened a 17-0 lead and held on. Grogan threw TD passes to Randy Vataha and Andy Johnson.
Date and Place: Nov. 27 1983, at Shea Stadium
Result: Jets 26, Patriots 3
Stats: Eason was 13-for-27 for 159 yards with an interception and was sacked once.
Notes: Eason, like Jones, was picked 15th overall in a draft famous for its quarterbacks. He was taken one pick behind Jim Kelly and 22 spots ahead of Dan Marino.
It took Eason almost three months to make his first start under coach Ron Meyer. The Patriots couldn’t contain Jets QB Richard Todd, who threw for 305 yards, a huge number in those days, and never really threatened.
Date and Place: Nov. 25, 1990, at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Result: Phoenix Cardinals 34, New England Patriots 14
Stats: Hodson was 17 for 29 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Notes: Hodson, a third-round pick in the 1990 draft, played on some bad Patriots teams including this one, which was 1-9 when he took the reins. Hodson didn’t have much of a career, but his first game, especially the first half, wasn’t bad as the Patriots were tied 14-14 at intermission. He threw touchdown passes to John Stephens and Marv Cook.
Date and Place: Nov. 15, 1992, Hoosier Dome
Result: Patriots 37, Colts 34
Stats: The future radio personality was 20 for 29 for 261 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Notes: The Patriots were winless when Zolak got his first start. The fourth-round pick led the Patriots on a field goal drive to force overtime in the fourth quarter and another to win the game in overtime.
Date and Place: Sept. 5, 1993, Rich Stadium, Buffalo
Result: Bills 38, Patriots 14
Stats: Bledsoe completed 14 of 30 passes for 148 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Notes: The No. 1 pick in the entire draft started Day 1 in New England, but had some growing pains early. He lost his first four games but finished 5-4 in his last nine games that year springboarding him to the better days that were ahead. He led the NFL in passing yards a year later. In his debut, he threw touchdown passes to Ben Coates and Greg McMurtry.
Date and Place: Sept. 30, 2001, Foxboro Stadium
Result: Patriots 44, Colts 13
Stats: Brady was 13 for 23 for 168 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Notes: This is not the Mo Lewis game, which Bledsoe started. This is a week later. Brady was very much in the role of game-manager and did it effectively. The Patriots intercepted Peyton Manning three times and crushed the Colts at home.
Date and Place: Sept. 14, 2005, Giants Stadium
Result: Patriots 19, Jets 10
Stats: Cassel rewarded Bill Belichick’s faith in him by completing 16-of-23 passes for 165 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns
Notes: With Brady knocked out for the season a week before, Cassel a backup in college at USC, became the Patriots’ unlikely starter three years after he was selected in the seventh round. He was traded to Kansas City a year later and had a solid career.
Date and Place: Sept. 11, 2016, University of Phoenix Stadium
Result: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21
Stats: Garoppolo was 24-for-33 for 264 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Notes: Garoppolo got his turn with Brady serving the first game of his Deflategate suspension. Garoppolo, who’d been the backup for the previous two years, was good enough that there were fans who wondered whether Brady should be traded to let Jimmy G take over.
Trailing 21-20 with 9:46 left, he led a six-minute drive that included three third-down conversions to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s game-winning 32-yard field goal.
Date and Place: Sept 22, 2016, Gillette Stadium
Result: Patriots 27, Texans 0
Stats: Brissett was 11 for 19 for 103 yards and rushed eight times for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Notes: With Brady suspended and Garoppolo hurt, Brissett took his turn and led the Patriots to an easy win over Houston with a solid running and passing performance.
Date and Place: Sept. 12, 2021 at Gillette Stadium
Result: Miami 17, New England 16
Stats: Jones completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown, no interceptions.
Notes: Jones led the Patriots all the way to the Miami 11 late, but a Damien Harris fumble ended their hopes of a comeback win. His first touchdown pass was to Nelson Agholor.
This content was originally published here.