The Steelers are lightly preparing for Bailey Zappe as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, but he’s not the only quarterback that concerns Pittsburgh. New England has flip-flopped on their quarterbacks many times this season already, but one thing they have not done is turn a new leaf over to rookie Malik Cunningham. However, he was active last week, and that could be a complete wild card plan that throws the entire game on its head.
Cunningham is a mobile quarterback who has wheels. The Patriots can build a legitimate run game off him and do different things that Zappe and Mac Jones can not do. Of course, that does not mean they will do that, but Mike Tomlin is concerned that they could pull that out of their bags of tricks.
“I’m really concerned about the quarterback position and the things that they’re doing at the quarterback position from our preparedness standpoint,” Tomlin said. “They got two guys that are somewhat similar in Mac (Jones) and Zap (Bailey Zappe), but Malik Cunningham potentially is very different. And they had all three up just yesterday, and so that has our attention as we prepare. The quarterback mobility component, particularly in a short week is something to be focused on and to make sure that we’re solid thankfully, we play enough quarterback mobility, that we’re not starting at ground zero. And hopefully our cumulative history against quarterback mobility will allow us to make some quick decisions and so forth because when you’re working on a short week, there’s a limited amount of physical reps that you get. And so, when you’re looking at something, potentially like wildcat or quarterback mobility or designed quarterback runs, period, they have your attention.”
Belichick seemed intrigued by the idea of Cunningham playing at some point. He was elevated from their practice squad for a reason, and the Patriots could be at a point where they turn a leaf over to a new direction for the offense Jones and Zappe have seemed fruitless. Cunningham is still on the practice squad, and would need to be elevated to play, but that could likely happen.
In the last three games, the 2-10 Patriots have scored 0, 7 and 6 points. They’re the first team since 1938 to lose three straight games where they didn’t allow more than 10 points, per CBS Sports. The Patriots rank dead last in scoring offense, averaging 12.3 points per game. If they struggle early against the Steelers, Cunningham could be the spark.