New England Patriots Week 5 Starter: Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham?

Jarrett Stidham

The New England Patriots have to make a difficult decision heading into Week 5’s matchup against the Denver Broncos. Cam Newton remains on the COVID-19 list, and is a longshot to be cleared in time for Sunday’s match. This leaves the Patriots choosing between the underwhelming duo of Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham at quarterback. Hoyer earned the start last week, but Stidham took over after a highly ineffective half of football. Has Stidham done enough to earn the start, or should the team go back to the experienced veteran?

Brain Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham For New England Patriots?

The Case For Brian Hoyer

The Denver Broncos are a bad team, and the Patriots probably won’t have to score too many points to win this matchup. Because of this, they might be able to get by with a quarterback that doesn’t make too many great plays, but doesn’t make too many bad ones either. If they’re looking for the safer option, Brian Hoyer is probably the right choice.

Hoyer was a disaster last week, and made several bone-headed decisions that actively ruined New England’s chances of victory. On two separate occasions, Hoyer stalled drives on the red zone and actively took points off the board. At the end of the second quarter, Hoyer took a sack and let time expire. Midway through the third, Hoyer fumbled near the goal line while demonstrating an astonishing lack of pocket presence.

These mistakes were bad, but we have enough of a sample to know that Hoyer is normally better than this. While he’s certainly not a good quarterback, he’s usually not prone to those types of mistakes. Most of the time, he’s capable of picking up exactly what the scheme provides, and that might be enough for a Week 5 win.

The Case For Jarrett Stidham

While Hoyer is the safer option, Stidham has a wider variety of outcomes. The former fourth-round pick had an up-and-down showing in Week 4, but played better than his overall stats would suggest. Stidham had probably the best throw of any Patriots quarterback last week when he found N’Keal Harry on a perfect touch pass in the corner of the endzone. Additionally, he demonstrated the ability to use his legs to buy time in the pocket, a skill that Hoyer simply doesn’t have.

However, Stidham also had his fair share of low moments. His worst throw of the game came midway through the fourth quarter when he had a wide open Damiere Byrd downfield for a free touchdown. Just about anyone could make this throw, but Stidham dramatically underthrew Byrd for his second interception of the day. If completed, this touchdown would have put the Patriots right back in the ballgame.

Additionally, Stidham still has some work to do with his pocket presence. Facing 3rd and 5 midway through the fourth, Stidham tried to connect with White in the flat. The pass fell incomplete, as pressure from the left side forced an off-target throw. While Isaiah Wynn should’ve had a better block, Stidham should have stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pressure before throwing.

The Verdict

While Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham both leave something to be desired, Stidham is the better option for Week 5. Both quarterbacks have a pretty low floor, but Stidham’s athleticism and superior arm skill offers a higher upside.

Along with Stidham having a higher ceiling, the Patriots should use any chance they can get to evaluate their young signal caller. Cam Newton is only on a one-year deal, so it’s in New England’s best interests to see what Stidham can do against a real NFL defense. Nobody is suggesting he’s stealing Cam Newton’s job, but he has a chance to be the primary backup and possible long-term solution with a good showing.

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