With longtime quarterback Tom Brady off to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots have to decide on a new starter for the first time in two decades. Brady has, of course, missed games during his Patriots tenure (mainly 2008) and four games in 2016, and Bill Belichick found ways to make it work.
With that being said, second-year pro Jarrett Stidham could be the favorite to win the starting job in 2020 despite his lack of experience.
Here are three bold predictions for the former fourth-round pick out of Auburn.
3. He’ll win the starting job
While Stidham may be the current favorite to win the starting job, things are far from certain. The two other quarterbacks on the Patriots roster — Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler — have more experience than the 23-year-old Stidham. Hoyer specifically has 38 games of starting experience throughout his 11-year career.
Still, many of the top Patriots players such as Stephon Gilmore have had high praise for the former Auburn star, and that’s about as good as an endorsement as you can get.
Also, while there’s a definite possibility that the Patriots restructure some contracts and go out and sign a free agent quarterback like Jameis Winston or Cam Newton or trade for someone like Andy Dalton, the team’s poor cap space leads me to believe that New England will stick with the guy who is more familiar with the system.
2. He’ll lead the Patriots to at least eight wins
Bill Belichick was able to win 11 games with Matt Cassell at quarterback in 2008 and went 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo and third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Belichick’s genius in getting the most out of whoever he has under center no matter how experienced they are is one of his best qualities, and I have no reason it would be any different with Stidham.
Eight wins would be the lowest total for New England since 2000, but I’m setting the bar pretty low. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots pulled out another double-digit win season on their way to a 12th-straight AFC East title.
1. He throws more touchdowns than he did at Auburn
In his redshirt sophomore season on The Plains, Stidham completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,158 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions while running for four additional TDs. This solid season had many projecting the 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback to be an early first-round pick in 2019.
However, Stidham slightly regressed in 2019 rather than taking a big leap, but that was mainly due to a horrible offensive line, a lack of weapons and poor play calling from Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn. Stidham once again tossed 18 touchdowns as a junior and only threw five interceptions but did see his completion percentage and yardage both dip a bit.
This one comes with the caveat that I think if Stidham is named the full-time starter, he will throw more than 18 touchdowns for New England next season, effectively surpassing any season he had in college.
Stidham was never an excellent fit for Malzahn’s offense and it definitely showed at times. The young quarterback reportedly has a great relationship with many of the team’s wide receivers and will have the perfect opportunity to prove himself in 2020.