Patriots Change Quarterback Approach With Latest Signing

Bill Belichick

Getty Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hasn't determined the starting quarterback for 2023.

The New England Patriots won’t veer from a pocket passer at quarterback with the addition of Trace McSorley, but the Patriots added a wrinkle with the recent acquisition.

Taylor Kyles of SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit highlighted that point on Thursday, April 13, after the Patriots announced the McSorely signing. The former Penn State standout played for the Arizona Cardinals last season after two years with the Baltimore Ravens.

“McSorley provides mobility the QB room doesn’t currently have and can be used on read/draw concepts in some situations,” Kyles wrote. “Can also escape the pocket and make bigger defenders miss in space.”

McSorley fills the void left by former Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who signed with the Las Vegas Raiders last week. McSorely will likely become the third backup behind Patriots quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. Both Jones and Zappe are pocket passers, and neither averaged more than 2.2 yards per carry last season.

While McSorely may not see the field in regular season action, his past play shows that he can keep a team in a game if needed. McSorely nearly led the Cardinals to victory over former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas Night in 2022 before the Bucs escaped the desert, 19-16 in overtime.

In that game, McSorely threw for 217 yards and an interception, and he rushed for 14 yards on seven carries. He led the Cardinals to a 16-6 lead in the fourth quarter before the Cardinals defense failed to hold off the Bucs.

McSorely finished the season with 412 yards passing and 61 yards rushing in six game appearances. He averaged 4.1 yards rushing per attempt, and he sustained only three sacks in 148 offensive snaps —including just one sack in his start against the Bucs.

“On the concerning end, there’s a lotta turnover-worthy plays on McSorley’s resume, especially underneath,” Kyles wrote. “Accuracy plus footwork wane significantly under pressure, and he often throws late/behind receivers on out-breaking routes Also makes some rough decisions outside the pocket.”

McSorely Could Help Patriots Behind the Scenes

Kyles noted that McSorely’s mobility “should help New England’s defense prepare for some of the elusive QBs on the 2023 schedule”. The Patriots will see the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, and Dak Prescott this year.

Kyles also noted that the Patriots could benefit from developing McSorely.

“He excels when throwing downfield and outside the numbers from clean pockets, shows eye discipline to hold post safeties versus single-high look, has the touch and accuracy to put the ball away from coverage, and knows when to throw back-shoulder passes,” Kyles wrote.

McSorely Once Contended for the Heisman

Before the NFL, McSorely shined for four seasons with Penn State, which included a run at the Heisman Trophy in 2016. McSorely threw for 1,215 yards and 77 touchdowns versus 25 interceptions in his career with the Nittany Lions.

His success in college didn’t wow scouts enough to land high in the 2019 NFL Draft as the Ravens took him in the sixth round. He backed up Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, a player he finished behind in the 2016 Heisman voting. McSorely threw 10 passes with the Ravens amid three game appearances in 2020.

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