If the 2-5 New England Patriots continue to fall out of playoff contention, they should see what they have in one or two of their developmental quarterbacks with an eye toward the future.
Through seven games, quarterback Cam Newton does not seem like the perfect fit to carry the Patriots through the post-Tom Brady era. Backup Jarrett Stidham has played poorly in mop-up duty, but he also hasn’t been given the opportunity to start or prepare all week as the top quarterback option in limited snaps this season.
The Patriots trailed 13-3 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter when Stidham replaced Brian Hoyer in New England’s Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots were down 33-6 with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter when Stidham replaced Newton in New England’s Week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Stidham has completed 47.8 percent of his passes for 124 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in two quarters of action. One of those interceptions came on a drop by wide receiver Julian Edelman.
“Jarrett has improved a lot from last year,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Monday on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria” program. “He’s a much better player than he was last year. Just want him to continue to track in that positive direction. We’ll just see how it goes.”
The Patriots have another young quarterback on their practice squad in second-year pro Jake Dolegala, who spent all of last season on the Cincinnati Bengals’ 53-man roster and signed with New England in September. Dolegala went undrafted out of Central Connecticut last spring and went 37-of-53 for 347 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in last year’s preseason. His adjusted completion percentage, per PFF, was 73.6 percent.
Belichick has seen Dolegala improve over the last month and a half.
“A lot in terms of learning a new system and getting acclimated to the way we do things and the way we call plays and so forth,” Belichick said. “So, that’s all been good. He’s had some opportunities to participate in certain aspects of practice. Those are good evaluation tools, too, but it’s not really the same as being able to run our offense. There are limited — some but limited — opportunities for that.
“Jake’s smart. He works hard, and he spends a lot of extra time here. Very willing to do whatever we need him to do to help our team on the practice field or walkthrough or any other situation he’s involved in. So, I’m glad we have him. He’s done a good job for us.”
Dolegala, who traveled to Kansas City as an emergency QB option in Week 4, went 3-of-7 for 99 yards on deep passes last preseason. He was 7-of-10 for 48 yards and a touchdown while under pressure. He released the ball in 2.35 seconds on average and was sacked five times.
Stidham went 61-of-91 for 731 yards with four touchdowns and one interception as a rookie last preseason. He had an 84.1 adjusted completion percentage, was 4-of-11 for 104 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on deep passes, 10-of-25 for 142 yards with an interception while under pressure and released the ball in 2.77 seconds on average. He took nine sacks.
Preseason games were canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.