Brian Hoyer hasn’t played a meaningful snap this season. The New England Patriots hope he never needs to.
But a player like Hoyer doesn’t need to throw passes to make an impact.
New England’s backup quarterback has been an invaluable resource for rookie starter Mac Jones, as head coach Bill Belichick explained Monday morning.
“Brian’s done a great job for us in every area,” Belichick said one day after the Patriots routed the New York Jets 25-6 for Jones’ first NFL win. “He obviously knows the offense better than anyone — any other player or quarterback — so that’s a big help when executing the play. There’s the coaching version of it, and then as a player, there’s kind of the execution of it — the little things that you remind yourself as a player that a coach sometimes doesn’t.
“It’s just different when you’re a player and executing the play and a coach trying to explain the play, and I think Brian adds a lot of good insight to that and how other teams defensively do things, because they’re all different.”
Hoyer, who turns 36 next month, is in his third stint with the Patriots. He’s also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts — and started games for six of those teams — since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
“Brian helps me with things that he’s seen,” Belichick said. “He’s been with a lot of other teams. Been with other coaches. Been in other systems. We talk about plays in situations, and he has a lot of good either ideas or recollections of the way somebody else did something, which might be something to learn from or might be something that we can use and so forth.”
Though he’s played for a quarter of the NFL’s 32 teams, Hoyer boasts a deep knowledge of New England’s offense that likely is matched only by coordinator Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady. Belichick said having a backup with such a wealth of experience allows the Patriots to focus all of their developmental energy on Jones.
“He’s been good and knows the offense well, so Mac has been able to take a lot of reps, but Brian’s been able to go in there and execute the offense when he’s needed to, whether that be in a preseason game or in practice, without taking a ton of reps so that we can give more of those to Mac since after the last preseason game,” Belichick explained. “So that’s really worked out well, too.”
Belichick was asked whether he’s pushed Hoyer to assume a mentorship role with Jones, or if the veteran has taken on those duties proactively. Jones has leaned on his veteran position mate throughout his Patriots tenure, peppering Hoyer with early-morning texts in training camp.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Belichick said. “Again, there’s a lot of conversations during the game day. There’s meetings. There’s before meetings. There’s after meetings. There’s in practice. There’s watching film of us. There’s watching film of other quarterbacks against the defense we’re playing. There’s film of watching other quarterbacks and other teams and different situations. So it comes on a lot of different levels and a lot of different situations.
“I’d say Brian’s done a good job of all of it, but there’s no definitive (instructions). It’s all-encompassing because we talk about so many things over the course of the day.”
The Patriots opted to enter the season with Hoyer as their primary backup rather than keeping former NFL MVP Cam Newton, who acknowledged his presence would have been a distraction for Jones. Hoyer began the year on the practice squad but was promoted to the 53-man roster this past weekend.
New England also has quarterback Garrett Gilbert on its practice squad and Jarrett Stidham on the physically unable to perform list. It’s unclear how the Patriots might adjust their depth chart once Stidham, who must sit out until at least Week 7, is healthy enough to return.