Why Scott Zolak thinks Patriots should bench Drake Maye to start 2024


“It’s all new to him. It’s like a brand new baby deer out there.”

Drake Maye has had his first few practices with the Patriots in recent days. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Drake Maye is starting to settle in with the Patriots and the Boston area.

The rookie quarterback had his first practices with the team last weekend as part of rookie minicamp. He also made his first public appearance in Boston since the Patriots drafted him on Sunday, attending Game 4 of the Bruins’ second-round series against the Panthers at TD Garden.

As Maye has seemed to embrace his new home with excitement, former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak believes that’s part of the reason why New England shouldn’t start him right away. Instead, he should be allowed to settle in.

“He looks like a wide-eyed, 14-year-old kid,” Zolak said of Maye on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand.” “He reminds me of my son. Like, ‘Wow, this is awesome!’ He’s going to have to grow into this. That’s the biggest thing I take away from this: He’s young. He’s really young. You look at a guy like Jacoby Brissett, he looks like he’s 35, has been around a long time, and is a veteran guy.”

It was believed that the Patriots signed Brissett in March to be a placeholder at quarterback before they moved in whoever they drafted as the starter at some point. But the Patriots haven’t named a starter, insisting that there will be a competition.

Prior to the draft, Zolak believed that the Patriots should’ve played whichever quarterback they selected with the third pick despite Brissett’s signing. He thought that playing Maye or whoever they selected could learn “invaluable” lessons by starting right away, even if they weren’t perceived to be good enough yet.

Zolak likes Maye’s attitude, but wonders if it’ll be able to work all of the time in the NFL.

“Just being around this kid and watching him post-draft as you learn more about Drake Maye, I love the excitement, I love the energy,” Zolak said. “I don’t know if you can do that 24/7. He’s got to be careful of that. He’s got to rein that in a little bit. But energy is infectious.”

That is the only reason why Zolak believes Maye should open the season on the bench in favor of Brissett. Center David Andrews told reporters last week that Brissett was helping many of the members of the offense learn and understand new Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s playbook.

Brissett played under Van Pelt when he was with the Browns in 2022, making him one of the few members of the Patriots’ offense to already have experience with him. In fact, Maye said that he was working on his footwork to match the cadences of Van Pelt’s offense. Patriots coach Jerod Mayo also said that the quarterback has “a lot to work on,” though he has “no doubt that he’ll put the time in.”

Zolak reiterated that he thinks it’s best for Maye to sit back for a bit and learn from Brissett as he does that, like many other members of the Patriots’ offense are doing.

“He’s got to learn the offense and be productive,” Zolak said. “He’s learning now. If you hear the stories about him, he’s taking all this tape home, he’s at the office long, and he’s learning how to study. Just overload information.

“He’s tentative,” Zolak added. “It’s all new to him. It’s like a brand new baby deer out there. That’s what he looks like to me, a brand new baby deer on the ice.”

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