The New England Patriots let it be known that they were interested in drafting a quarterback in this year’s draft. In the end, they landed on Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round out of Auburn.
So far through training camp, Stidham has impressed the coaching staff with his development. The rookie signal-caller carried his momentum into the Patriots’ first preseason game versus the Detroit Lions.
Stidham aired it out for 179 yards and a touchdown as New England annihilated the Lions 31-3. As usual, there were some good things that Stidham did and there were also glaring issues in his game.
Most importantly, Stidham’s performance helped lead the Patriots to a win. Albeit, it was a preseason game but it is nice to see a rookie quarterback lead his team nonetheless.
On Saturday night, Stidham is hoping to improve upon his preseason debut with another productive outing against the Tennessee Titans. Here are three things to watch for from Jarrett Stidham in his second preseason game.
3. Ability to Throw Downfield
When dealing with a young quarterback, they often tend to shy away from throwing the ball downfield in the preseason. Stidham is going to have to show that he isn’t afraid to take shots down the field when he’s under center.
In his first preseason outing, Stidham completed 14 of his 24 attempts for 179 yards and a touchdown. Stidham’s longest pass came on a 26-yard strike to undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers.
With the Patriots being suddenly deep at receiver, the rookie quarterback shouldn’t be afraid to give those guys a shot to make a play. Ultimately, the outcome of the preseason games don’t matter, so why not risk pushing the ball downfield right now?
The Patriots would love to see more plays that involve Stidham looking at his options down the field. Watch for Stidham to heave some deep passes when the Patriots face the Titans in their second exhibition game.
2. Poise in the Pocket
Another tendency with rookie passers is they frequently get “happy feet” in the pocket. This is when quarterbacks start roaming out of the pocket when there is no need to.
During Stidham’s first game, the Patriots fourth-round pick didn’t seem too uncomfortable in the pocket but there are some things he could work on. Stidham sometimes struggles once the pressure gets in his face and he delivers questionable throws.
To improve, Stidham is going to have to learn to stand strong in the pocket and focus on going through his reads before crumbling under pressure. Those types of things will come with more experience in a game setting.
This week, Stidham will face the Titans who will likely send some pressure to rattle the rookie quarterback. Belichick is hoping to see some poise from Stidham as he continues to progress.
One of the biggest issues in Stidham’s game coming into the NFL was his accuracy. In his last year at Auburn, Stidham completed just 60.7% of his passes.
Furthermore, in his preseason debut, he completed just 58.3% of his passes on his 24 attempts. There were quite a few throws that Stidham wishes he got back as he missed wide-open receivers.
His accuracy can improve throughout the preseason as he continues to get accustomed to the wide receivers of the Patriots. Stidham also needs to work on delivering the ball in better positions for the wide receivers to make a play.
The good thing for Stidham is that he gets to learn from the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady. A mixture of working alongside Brady and getting reps in the preseason should help Stidham make adjustments in his game.