Suddenly, the trend is to talk down Jarrett Stidham’s chances of being successful as the New England Patriots’ starting QB or to even question if he’ll get the job in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.
While some may be simply poking at the next man under the microscope, others are pointing to Stidham’s college numbers and the minute sample size we saw of him in the 2019 preseason and four underwhelming throws in the regular season.
Pro Football Focus’ Solomon Wilcots dealt a serious blow to the Stidham hype train with one sentence from his breakdown of the second-year pro’s college days. Wilcots wrote this as a summary:
“So, even when operating within ideal conditions, Stidham has shown to be inaccurate on what should be easy NFL throws.”
That’s tough. What can you do if you give a QB a perfect pocket, time and open receivers, and they’re still inaccurate?
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Naturally, everyone wants to analyze Stidham, even if there isn’t really enough valid tape to evaluate him. However, it’s a long offseason (made even longer because COVID-19 has shut down all other sports distractions for Patriots fan and media) which leaves a lot of time to breakdown what we’ve seen.
That said, there is some validity to Wilcots’ analysis. Here is what Wilcots said to set up that death sentence.
During Stidham’s final college season at Auburn, he attempted 152 passes while throwing in rhythm with no pressure, but just over 50% of those passes were charted as “accurate” (50.3%), per PFF’s QB charting system, which ranked 29th among 34 qualifying draft-eligible quarterbacks in 2018. Another 28.7% of those attempts were deemed uncatchably inaccurate, which ranked 33rd among that same group of qualifiers.
It’s getting harder to defend Stidham at this point with this sort of undeniable stat reveal. Obviously, strong play in the preseason and of course in the regular season will make all of this go away. If he does get off to a strong start, teams will adjust, and then we’ll see if he has the ability to take the next step. He didn’t get that opportunity in his rookie season when his short time he didn’t impress.
With inaccuracy clearly identified as Stidham’s current Achilles’ heel, this will be the aspect of his game that critics are focused on. Up to now, Stidham’s teammates have lauded his work ethic, intelligence, and professionalism. All of those qualities are great, but none of them automatically result in execution on the field, which includes putting the ball on a receiver when he’s open.
When he gets his chance–whether it’s in Week 1 or Week 5–Stidham will need to quickly prove that is no longer the impediment between him and quality play.
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