For the first time in forever, the New England Patriots have a question at the quarterback position. After 20 years of elite play, the Patriots look to enter the 2020 season with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham under center. Stidham, a former fourth-round pick, has a whopping four passes to his name and certainly comes with some uncertainty. There are plenty of reasons to believe that he will succeed, but just as many to doubt his NFL future.
Will Jarrett Stidham Succeed in 2020?
Why He Will
Based on his limited preseason action, Jarrett Stidham looks a lot better than your typical fourth-round pick. The Auburn product completed 61 of his 90 preseason attempts for 731 yards, 8.1 yards-per-attempt, four touchdowns, and one interception. His impressive earned him the primary backup job over Brian Hoyer and he gained the invaluable experience of learning behind Tom Brady for one season.
This preseason performance might not have been a fluke. Prior to the 2018 collegiate season, Jarrett Stidham was widely viewed as a first-round talent by the NFL Draft community. However, an atrocious season at Auburn caused his draft stock to plummet. Auburn’s situation certainly didn’t play to his strengths, and the blame for his 2018 season could primarily rest on his surroundings.
The team appears to have some form of confidence in the rookie, as they didn’t bring in any noteworthy competition. While the team didn’t have the cap space to pay someone like Philip Rivers, they could’ve found a way to sign a cost-effective quarterback like Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, or Andy Dalton to a one-year deal. Considering the team reportedly showed no interest in any of the free agents, this shows that Bill Belichick and company believe in Stidham’s ability to be “the guy” moving forward.
Why He Won’t
After watching him in practice for a year, Bill Belichick has a better idea than anyone else of what Stidham brings to the table. However, there’s still no way to definitively know if he’s good until he’s playing meaningful snaps against top competition. His sample of NFL action is so small that it’s basically meaningless, so nobody knows if he can actually play at a professional level. Even if he truly is a first-round talent, first-round picks fail all the time.
Stidham’s 2018 season proved that he’s not the type of quarterback that can thrive in any situation. This isn’t a dig at Stidham, as there are only a handful of passers that will maintain some form of elite play, regardless of surroundings. Unfortunately for Stidham, the 2020 New England Patriots are not built to support a young quarterback.
Jarrett Stidham Needs to Overcome His Surroundings
The offensive line should be great, assuming David Andrews can return to his old form and everyone can stay healthy. However, the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Julian Edelman is a reliable safety blanket, but he’s entering his age-34 season and is two years older than Wes Welker was when injures derailed his career. There can’t be much gas left in Edelman’s tank, and the odds of him staying healthy and effective for a full 16 games are pretty slim.
Mohamed Sanu is typically a better player than he was in 2019. However, even at full health, he’s never been anything more than a depth receiver. Additionally, he’s on the books for $6.5 million and could be a cap casualty. It’s too early to know anything about the respective careers of N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, but both players left a lot to be desired as rookies and neither one is a guarantee to improve moving forward.
The Patriots drafted two intriguing tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Both players possess plenty of promise for the future, but they probably won’t do much of anything as rookies. Tight end is arguably the hardest non-quarterback position in New England’s offense, and expecting these two to notably contribute in a shortened offseason is probably asking too much. Even if this was a normal offseason, you shouldn’t expect much from Asiasi and Keene as rookies. Historically speaking, tight ends need a season or two before they’re ready for a regular NFL role.
Stidham will need to overcome a lot if he’s to succeed in the NFL, at least in the short term. Only time will tell if he’s up for the challenge.
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