During the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have been astonishingly good against rookie quarterbacks. Their success against freshmen signal-callers is one of the main reasons for people expecting them to beat Zach Wilson and the Jets on Sunday.
However, there’s a proverbial fly in the proverbial ointment. And it just might be gross enough to make you rethink the Week 2 game between New England and New York.
The Patriots are a whopping 21-6 against rookie quarterbacks since Belichick took over in 2000. Their last loss came in Week 17 of last season when Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins earned a 27-24 victory in Miami. At home, Belichick is 13-0 against rookie QBs, compared to 8-6 on the road. Again, the numbers are silly.
Here’s the thing: Those six road losses? Five of them have come before Week 10. In fact, Belichick is just 2-5 when facing rookie quarterbacks on the road before Week 10.
So, perhaps this Week 2 game in New York won’t be a picnic. It probably shouldn’t be considered one anyway, considering how the Patriots looked last Sunday against Miami.
We went down the rabbit hole and dug up Belichick’s seven pre-Week 10 road games against rookie quarterbacks, all for the love of hyper-specific stats that fit a narrative. We also have included the quarterbacks’ numbers.
2004: Week 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger)
— Steelers 34, Patriots 20
— 18-of-24 for 196 yards, two TDs
2009: Week 2 at New York Jets (Mark Sanchez)
— Jets 16, Patriots 9
— 14-of-22 for 163 yards, one TD
2010: Week 9 at Cleveland Browns (Colt McCoy)
— Browns 34, Patriots 14
— 14-of-19 for 174 yards
2012: Week 6 at Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson)
— Seahawks 24, Patriots 23
— 16-of-27 for 293 yards, three TDs
2013: Week 1 at Buffalo Bills (EJ Manuel)
— Patriots 23, Bills 21
— 18-of-27 for 150 yards, two TDs
2013: Week 7 at New York Jets (Geno Smith)
— Jets 30, Patriots 27 (OT)
— 17-of-33 for 233 yards, one TD, one INT
2016: Week 5 at Cleveland Browns (Cody Kessler)
— Patriots 33, Browns 13
— 5-of-8, 62 yards, one TD
Yes, “stats are for losers,” and none of this will matter come Sunday. Games aren’t won on Football Reference.
Still, numbers are numbers, and these ones aren’t pretty. Plus, you easily could argue this is a worse Patriots team than any that played in those aforementioned games.
At last check, the Patriots were six-point favorites over the Jets. That feels high, although New England definitely should win this game.
New York and New England are scheduled to kick off from MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.