Bailey Zappe and Bill Belichick Becoming Hug Bros Could Be a Sign Both Will Be Back in 2024

It's a basic law of economics. Of supply and demand. When something is scarcer, it becomes more valuable. So when it's almost New Year's and we've only seen as many Patriots post-victory locker room videos as we used to get by early October, the ones you do see become more all the more precious. 

Take this one, from Christmas Eve win at Denver. Which features the obligatory handshakes and shoulder bumps. Belichick's heartfelt speech about showing toughness. Properly singling out Christian Barmore, who lived in the Broncos backfield all night. Acknowledging Chad Ryland for shaking off two misses to drill the best kick of his career so far. And of course Matthew Slater, still breaking the team down despite spending the game in street clothes. 

But without question, whoever posted this to the Patriots X account recognized the money shot in all this and used it as the thumbnail. 

And Bailey Zappe addressed it on his WEEI appearance: 

And he's certainly earned the privilege. As has Belichick. And together they formed the most warm, heartfelt bro hug since Tommy Callahan:

At the risk of going way too far afield on a simple emotional gesture, the more I watch the two share this moment (and I'm up to about three dozen times with no reason to stop), the more I become convinced Belichick will be back next season. Not that a Bailey Zappe hug has the power to save someone's job. But more how it speaks to how the coach is seen by his players. That even 4-11, he's still admired. Respected. Revered, even. 

As I said after the win, whatever new and more creative ways this team has come up with to lose winnable games in this dreadful slog of a season, quitting hasn't been one of them. They've had a total of two games they were never really in. And neither of them demonstrated the team was imploding. They've hung around, fought until the final whistle. And guys across the roster are still playing through injuries and giving maximum effort. It seems to me this is rare for teams in their situation. Especially when the coach they're playing for is so clearly in danger of losing his job. 

If nothing else, this clip gives us a rare look inside the 2023 Patriots that is in vivid contrast to their record and where they are in the standings. One that makes it harder to imagine Mr. Kraft firing the man who brings out this level of loyalty and commitment from his players in the most difficult of circumstances. 

As far as Zappe, his numbers speak for themselves. He played his most complete game of the season. The coaches trusted him with more deep balls of 20+ air yards than we've seen around here since probably 2021. And he completed them:

And as a result, he was rewarded by getting to feel the warm, soft embrace of his coach's mighty arms in a way that some quarterbacks around here have never experienced. Or only got to enjoy after winning rings:

Getty Images.

That tender moment was the highlight of this Christmas season. And I don't mind sounding ridiculous by saying it could signal something profound. Like Zappe and Belichick might be bro-hugging after big, emotional victories for years to come.