If Jarrett Stidham does become the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback this season, he’ll be saddled with the immense pressure of replacing the greatest QB in NFL history.
Devin McCourty doesn’t want to add to that burden.
“I always lead off with this: If you ask me to evaluate and pick a quarterback, the team’s probably going to lose a lot of games,” McCourty said during a conference call with New England reporters. “I don’t know exactly — like, I don’t even know what Josh McDaniels tells him to read. Like I said about (Stidham) before, I love how he’s come in, he’s eager to learn. He has a great personality, great attitude, like a lot of guys in the locker room. I would say he’s been one of the more mature guys that comes in and just gets to work.”
He later added: “I don’t want to turn this call into ‘what I see in Stidham is the next great quarterback’ and put all that pressure on him. I know if I say something, then it’s a headline tomorrow. Like I said, he’s a hard-worker. He comes in and he works hard. He did a great job this year of just coming in and trying to compete in his role. And then you’ve got Cody Kessler, who gave us some good looks on different things. Both those guys, great attitudes, so I look forward to those guys getting an opportunity.”
Stidham, who will battle Kessler and the newly signed Brian Hoyer for the top job this summer, is one of several 2019 Patriots draft picks who could see their roles increase in 2020. McCourty mentioned untested offensive linemen who could emerge — likely a nod to tackle Yodny Cajuste (third round) and guard Hjalte Froholdt (fourth round), both of whom missed last season due to injury.
Cornerback Joejuan Williams (second round), running back Damien Harris (third round) and defensive lineman Byron Cowart (fifth round) all played bit parts as rookies, with Harris hardly seeing the field at all.
“I’m excited just going forward,” McCourty said. “Our team as a whole — young guys who didn’t get a lot of opportunities last year, guys who got hurt. We have a couple guys like that that’ll now be able to go out there for next year and have an opportunity to help the team in different ways. I think Stiddy falls in that category along with some other players. On the offensive line, different guys I think will get an opportunity now that we didn’t get to see last year.
“It’s just that time of year. You start a new season, there’s changes. People are like, ‘This guy’s gone, that guy’s gone.’ And then guys step up and do that. So I’m excited for all those guys.”
McCourty, a career Patriot who re-signed earlier this month, also is confident in New England’s ability to replace Brady’s leadership.
“I think we have a great group of guys, just in the locker room,” the longtime team captain said. “I think it’s been like that for years. Obviously, we had probably the greatest football player ever on our team, so I think people didn’t really look at the leadership of different guys we had in the locker room.
“So I know everyone’s kind of like, ‘What’s going to happen? Everything’s brand new,’ but I don’t really see it like that. I see it as just a continuance of what we’ve been doing and guys assuming the same leadership roles. When you look at myself, (Matthew) Slater, Jules (Julian Edelman), (Patrick) Chung — all those guys have been there 10-plus years. So we just have to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”