The 2020 NFL season will mark the start of a new era in Foxboro.
With Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay, the Patriots will begin a season without the future Hall of Famer atop the quarterback depth chart for the first time since the early 2000s. All signs point to the baton being passed to Jarrett Stidham, who served as Brady’s backup last season after being selected in the fourth round in the 2019 draft.
Patriots fans understandably might be feeling a bit uneasy about Stidham being the team’s new starter. While the Auburn product impressed at times last summer, the jury remains out on whether he’s capable of being a QB1 in the NFL. Former New England tight end Ben Watson, however, believes Stidham has what it takes to be a starter, and his review of the 23-year-old should be reassuring to Pats fans.
“Stidham has all that there needs to be for somebody who’s going to be successful,” Watson said Tuesday on FS1’s “First Things First.” “He’s a student of the game. You hear that a lot, but what that really means is that when we’re in the meeting rooms, he’s paying attention. When they’re in the quarterback room, he’s paying attention. When he’s on the field, he’s taking instruction from the coaches. He’s able to disseminate information to the guys in the huddle. He’s able to encourage them and kind of go through the minor details about route-running, about reading coverages, all those things. He’s eager to learn and he has a certain humility about him, with confidence. He had a chance to learn under arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game. He soaked that in for a year. Patriots fans shouldn’t be confident that he wouldn’t be in that room if Coach (Bill) Belichick didn’t think he could help the team.”
"Jarrett Stidham's a student of the game. … He had a chance to learn under arguably the best QB to play. Patriot fans should be confident that he wouldn't be in that room if Coach Belichick didn't think he could help the team." — @BenjaminSWatson pic.twitter.com/tiZPHe6Nmj
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 14, 2020
Watson isn’t the only one with ample NFL service time who’s high on Stidham. Devin and Jason McCourty, who combine for over 20 seasons in the league, are confident the young signal-caller will be able to replace Brady sufficiently under center in New England.