Is Jarrett Stidham good enough to succeed Tom Brady as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback?
It’s the biggest question facing Bill Belichick ahead of the 2020 season, as all signs point to Stidham sitting atop New England’s QB depth chart when training camp begins. Veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer could compete for the job, which belonged to Brady for two decades, but Stidham appears to be the frontrunner for the gig.
NFL Media’s Bucky Brooks explored Stidham’s potential in his latest notebook published over the weekend. The analyst concluded — after revisiting his pre-draft scouting report and reviewing film from the quarterback’s rookie season with New England — that Stidham has “enough talent to function as a capable starter” for the Patriots.
Here’s Brooks’ simple evaluation:
Given Belichick’s reputation and Stidham’s natural talents, it would be foolish to dismiss the Patriots’ chances of succeeding with an inexperienced young quarterback who wasn’t hailed as the next big thing when he entered the league.
So, what exactly has Brooks seen from Stidham that leads him to believe the 2019 fourth-round pick has what it takes to be successful in the NFL?
Let’s start with Stidham’s college career, during which he flashed star potential at Baylor before transferring to Auburn. Gus Malzahn’s system at Auburn might have stifled Stidham’s growth (and draft stock) to some extent, but the raw talent remained evident.
Here’s what Brooks wrote about Stidham’s sophomore and junior seasons at Auburn:
He not only exhibited A-plus arm talent while showcasing a mix of drive throws and touch tosses on the perimeter, but he flashed anticipation squeezing the ball into tight windows. Stidham’s performance dipped in 2018, partially due to subpar help from his receivers, offensive line and coaching staff. However, he still possessed enough tools to be considered an intriguing developmental prospect heading into last year’s draft.
Now, let’s consider Stidham’s rookie campaign with the Patriots. Although he attempted just four regular-season passes, one of which resulted in a pick-six, Stidham posted solid numbers in the preseason, sparking hope he might someday fill the role vacated by Brady.
Here’s what Brooks wrote about Stidham’s rookie preseason with New England:
Those numbers lined up with an impressive film resume that showed Stidham making an assortment of throws to every area of the field. The rookie tossed darts to receivers on quick-rhythm throws at short and intermediate range while also displaying efficient footwork and deft ball handling on play-action passes.
With Stidham showing the capacity to work the middle of the field while also throwing pinpoint passes to receivers along the boundary on deep-outs and comebacks, the Patriots should be able to continue attacking opponents with many of the same plays that have been staples in the game plan for years with TB12 at the controls.
Obviously, one shouldn’t expect Stidham, who turns 24 in August, to replicate Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history. But, as Brooks explains, we probably shouldn’t rule out Stidham succeeding, either.
Stidham’s tools combined with New England’s coaching acumen could yield solid results as soon as 2020.