These eyes were stuck on Patriots rookie QB Stidham
Well? What’s your take from Thursday night’s New England Patriots preseason blowout of the Detroit Lions?
We’ve all had some time now to dissect and bisect the 31-3 game, which means absolutely nothing except we got to see perhaps some players down the Patriots depth chart.
Here’s one prediction for cutdown day at the end of August: Rookie QB Jarrett Stidham stays, veteran backup Bryan Hoyer goes.
Yeah, some good backup QB talk.
Remember, Hoyer is Tom Brady’s binky. Hoyer said after Thursday night’s game Brady has been a great mentor for him during both his Patriots stints, and even when he was away. The guess here is his relationship with Brady will be long distance once again this season. Hoyer is slated to reportedly make $3 million this year, and the Patriots wouldn’t mind that money coming off the books if they decide to keep just two QBs, as has been their norm.He could be traded; the guess is the Patriots wanted to showcase him Thursday night and he obliged by completing 12 of 14 passes for 147 yards and two TDs against a secondary of Matt Patricia stiffs.
Stidham went 14 of 24 for 179 and a TD, with a few passes dropped. By all accounts, the fourth round pick out of Auburn has looked good in training camp and on Thursday night, albeit playing against Lions scrubs who will soon be castoffs, he played like he belonged. That’s a huge key for any NFL rookie, especially at the QB position. He looked raw but still was extremely poised.
“I had a great time,” Stidham said. “Being it was my first NFL experience, getting to play, but it was a lot of fun. A lot of things to improve on.”
You know what was telling? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t say much about Stidham a little while after the game, but that was one true case when the coach really didn’t want to until he saw the tape. Many football coaches – Belichick the king of this – hide behind “have to see the film.”
But on Friday, Belichick, having saw the film, elaborated on the rookie. That’s a mild shock.
“I think there were several plays that dawned all of the categories, really,” he said. “Quick throws where the read was clear and the receiver was open and then maybe a secondary read, and then there were a couple of times where he scrambled and extended the play. …
“The most important thing for the quarterback is not to turn the ball over, make good decisions, and throw accurately, aso he did all of those at times.”
That’s pretty strong praise coming from Belichick. The handwriting certainly seems on the wall, doesn’t it?
“I’m just doing it, the more comfortable I feel and that sort of thing,” Stidham said, saying he’s just been learning as much as he can from Brady, Hoyer, Josh McDaniels, etc. “It’s been great. Again, just continue to get better and continue to learn more about the offense and how we operate.”
Of course, there’s been so much focus on Brady and his fake three-year contract and the semi imaginary For Sale sign at his Brookline, Mass.home (the house was listed on line then the listing was removed), so Stidham has been in the shadows. But now he’s a must see the rest of the preseason.
“Sitting in the pocket, trying to make the throws when I can, just trying to do my job,” he said. “It’s always great to get back into live football. It was great to get out there. … And play some real football.”
There were a lot of things to watch the other night. We saw former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo very engaged in what looked like being in charge of the defense. We saw receivers Jakobi Meyers (this year’s undrafted rookie star) look superb, and Maurice Harris look good, while top pick, wideout N’Keal Harry look like he belonged until he appearted to tweak his hamstring again (why was he playing?). We saw Dan Skipper hold his own at left tackle, and we saw so many defensive players that we can see the Patriots could have a hard time whittling the numbers on that side of the ball down come late August.
But we’re all happy because we finally saw some semblence of Patriots football for the first time since the Super Bowl.
“Eventually it comes down to play a game,” Hoyer said, “and that’s what we put all the hard work in for. That’s what we’ve got to keep building on.”
Keep building, Brian. Your home by the start of the regular season will be in another NFL city.
Sure, it’s a very, very small sample size, but if the Patriots keep just two QBs, Jarrett Stidham thus far looks like the present (as a backup) and perhaps the future (use your imagination) all rolled into one.
Yup, nothing like analyzing preseason NFL football.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK, or firstname.lastname@example.org