Patriots Must Start Jarrett Stidham This Season, But Now’s Not The Time

The Patriots should spend the rest of the season evaluating their future at quarterback

by Doug Kyed

November 4, 2020

Barring an unexpected string of wins that would shoot them back into playoff contention, the New England Patriots should take the rest of the season to evaluate their future at quarterback.

That means, for now, continuing to start Cam Newton to see if he can begin playing better and find more consistency in the Patriots’ offense. Newton either needs to get more comfortable or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels must find a middle ground to match his QB’s skills with the system.

If Newton does not improve, and/or if the Patriots find themselves completely out of the playoff hunt, then New England must turn to Jarrett Stidham to see what it has in the second-year signal-caller before the franchise make tough decisions at the quarterback position in the spring.

Stidham has had a lousy start to his NFL career. In five career games, he’s completed 48.1 percent of his passes for 138 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.

Those numbers do need to be put in context, however. One of Stidham’s three interceptions this season came on a drop by wide receiver Julian Edelman. Stidham also has never received the opportunity to start a game or prepare all week to be the top quarterback.

Until Stidham actually gets that chance, the Patriots won’t truly know what they have in the Auburn product.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did give an update on Stidham this week.

?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 also could see what they have in second-year pro Jake Dolegala, who’s currently on the practice squad, before the end of the season.

Even if Newton or Stidham improve dramatically before the end of the 2020 NFL season, the Patriots need to add more upside at the quarterback position for the 2021 season, whether that means drafting a passer, trading for one or finding a QB in free agency.

It seems like there could be a number of intriguing options available — possibly including former Patriots draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo — in the offseason. If New England continues on its current trajectory, it even could find itself with an opportunity to take one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. The next best options would be BYU’s Zach Wilson, Florida’s Kyle Trask and maybe Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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