The starting quarterback for the New England Patriots will probably be Jarrett Stidham.
The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and while some may have felt his opportunity to take over for Tom Brady might come a few years later, the legend’s departure through free agency has signaled the time is now for Stidham. The Patriots are expected to take a QB in the upcoming draft, but it’ll probably be a late-round selection, and there could be a learning curve that will almost certainly give Stidham first crack at the position.
Here are five things you should know about the Patriots’ new starting QB.
Jarrett Stidham’s Age, Stats and Pro Experience
Stidham will be 24 years old when the 2020 season begins. The 2019 season was his rookie campaign. Backing up Brady, Stidham played in only three regular-season games. He completed two of his four passes for 14 yards and an interception.
It wasn’t nearly enough of a sample size to make heads or tails of what the Patriots can expect from Stidham in 2020.
Jarrett Stidham’s College Experience and Stats
Stidham began his collegiate career at Baylor in 2015. After a season in Waco that saw him throw for 1,265 yards, 12 TDs, and 2 INTs as a freshman, Stidham transferred to Auburn after Art Briles, the head coach who recruited him, was fired amidst a sexual assault scandal. Some, including 247 Sports’ Austin Nivison, believe the transfer was a bad career move for Stidham because the offense Briles’ replacement Matt Rhule ran was more in line with the QB’s skill set.
In any case, Stidham had to sit out the 2016 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. In 2017, he had arguably his best season as a college quarterback. Stidham completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for 3,158 yards, 18 TDs, and 6 INTs. In 2018, Stidham’s numbers plateaued and he appeared to struggle a bit with Auburn’s offense.
His completion percentage dropped to 60.7% and his passing yards declined to 2,794, while the TD numbers stayed the same, and he threw one less interception. Rather than come back for his senior season, Stidham elected to make himself eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft. There was never a doubt about Stidham’s arm strength, mental capacity and overall makeup as a QB, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t reaching his potential at Auburn.
What Scouts Said About Jarrett Stidham Coming Out of College
Most scouts recognized Stidham’s physical tools and intangibles, and it appeared much of his struggles were being blamed on a scheme mismatch with Auburn and less-than explosive and dependable weapons.
Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst wrote this about Stidham coming out of Auburn:
“Stidham’s game never progressed in 2018 and he struggled for a variety of reasons, namely his supporting cast and a question as to whether he was a good fit for the Auburn system. I still believe Stidham will be a solid second-day choice and has starting potential at the next level if properly developed. He possesses the physical skills to play with the first team in the NFL, and Stidham generally makes good decisions in the pocket.”
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated said this of Stidham after the then draft hopeful had performed well at Auburn’s Pro Day:
“I asked a few quarterbacks coaches who they thought threw it well on Saturday, and one name came up every time: Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. Coming into last season — and remember, at that point, neither Kyler Murray nor Dwayne Haskins had been full-time starters — some evaluators believed Stidham had the best arm talent in the class. And there’s an understanding out there that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s scheme wasn’t the best fit for him. So he’s a name to keep on your radar going forward.”
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What Jarrett Stidham Will Bring That Tom Brady Didn’t in 2019
Without question, Stidham is far more mobile than Brady. That’s not to mean he’ll be scrambling around and making plays with his legs like the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, but he will move around in the pocket a bit more to create different passing windows.
Arm strength wasn’t always a concern for Brady, but into his 40s, there are some who believe Brady’s arm strength has declined. This is obviously debatable as you’ll see in this segment from Fox’s First Things First:
There will be no one questioning Stidham’s arm talent. He can make all the NFL throws, and likely with more zip on the throws than Brady can provide at this stage of his career.
What You’ll Miss Most About Tom Brady During Jarrett Stidham’s First Year as Starter
Brady had the uncanny ability to beat defenses before the snap with his genius-level football IQ. He was also adept at making the subtle adjustments and plays that paid off majorly for the Patriots.
Also, and perhaps most importantly, his presence cannot be duplicated. Brady’s unequaled resume and tenure with the team cannot be replaced, and that’s what the Patriots will miss most of all.