With Tom Brady now in Tampa Bay, the New England Patriots offense will be able to operate more efficiently with Jarrett Stidham under center.
With Tom Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay, the overwhelming narrative across the sports world is the vulnerability of the 2020 Patriots.
That’s what happens when two titans of the football world clash heads and decide to separate after a 20-year run of championships and records.
Tampa Bay has now become a serious Super Bowl contender for the first time since the Patriots’ historical run was just getting off the ground.
Meanwhile, football fans across the country are celebrating the end of New England’s rein over the football galaxy much like the rebels did after seeing Rey and company kill Emperor Palpatine and destroy the First Order’s entire fleet (sorry for the Star Wars spoiler).
I, however, am not writing off this team just yet … for you see, they still have: The Boogeymen!
I’m just kidding.
That was an awful nickname, and the defense came crashing back down to earth almost immediately after that name was thrown out there. The Boogeymen are Miami’s problem now — sorry, Kyle.
It’s easy to see the Pats turning into a metaphorical pumpkin without Tom Brady as their Cinderella, but that would not be giving Bill Belichick enough credit.
We’ve seen over his tenure in Foxborough what he’s been able to do without Brady. Since Brady became the starter, New England has gone 14-6 without Tom in the starting lineup.
In his time in New England, Belichick has groomed a considerable amount of NFL-caliber quarterbacks, for example: Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and even Brady himself. All of these guys were drafted, or even signed as undrafted free agents, by Belichick.
Now if you went in a time machine to ask Bill the night that they drafted Stidham if he believed that they had drafted not just Tom Brady’s successor, but that he would have the starting job after just one year, I think Bill would probably say no.
But that doesn’t mean Bill, at that time, didn’t see Stidham as a viable option to supplant Brady one day in the same manner that was originally intended for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Jarrett reportedly had a better offseason as a rookie than just about all of the other names I listed earlier and has since continued to develop. Bill must see potential in him, otherwise he would have drafted, traded, or signed another starting-caliber quarterback.
The fact that he didn’t leads me to believe that he views Stidham as a better option than Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Jalen Hurts, or any other potential names that were floated around this offseason.
Belichick passed on Pro Bowlers, Heisman Trophy winners, and even a league MVP for Stidham. He doesn’t ignore players of that caliber if he doesn’t believe Stidham isn’t just ready to start in this league — but is ready to perform at a very high level as well.
New England seemed to address just about every hole on the roster that was made by offseason departures like Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, Elandon Roberts, Steven Gostkowski, Phillip Dorsett, and even Rob Gronkwoski … all via free agency or the draft. Every spot Belichick believed needed to be reinforced was done so, which means quarterback wasn’t one of them.
Aside from signing Marqise Lee and Damiere Byrd, New England didn’t really bolster what was considered to be their weakest position group in the 2019 season.
That shows that Bill still sees the same potential in this group that he saw last year, and with another offseason for players like Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, and Gunner Olszewski to develop and regain health, they can become the more cohesive group that can attribute to success in 2020.
Meyers seemed to have good chemistry with Hoyer and Stidham last preseason and shared the title of preseason darling with Olszewski, who showed potential as a return man and possible slot receiver.
There was obviously less pressure when catching passes from a fellow rookie compared to from the GOAT. Without the fear of disappointing Brady anymore, it could allow the young trio to develop in a healthier environment and not make the mental mistakes brought on by stress of pleasing (or displeasing) Brady.
It’s crazy to think that Brady being gone might be what’s best for these young receivers, but the other side of the coin is that Stidham is in the same boat as them — in that he’s playing for his job. He can’t afford to give receivers the cold shoulder and tell the coaches mid-game that he’s done throwing the ball to certain players.
Stidham needs to spread the ball around to everyone and trust that his receivers will make a play on the ball. If he is able to do just that, I can absolutely see this receiving corps showing off its improvement and proving Bill right that this group can excel with someone willing to work with them and instill trust.
Overall, I believe the defense will be much of what it was last season. Chase Winovich and John Simon are most likely to be asked to fill in the holes left by Van Noy and Collins. Rookies Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche, and Anfernee Jennings will look to become part-time contributors with the chance of being key situational defenders as well.
New England is going to look completely different at times on offense, while at other times, they’ll probably look exactly how they have the past 20 years.
All in all, I believe this offense will run more smoothly with Jarrett Stidham this season than it did last season with Tom Brady.
New England has the toughest strength of schedule this year in the league, whereas last season they had one of the easiest strengths of schedule.
With games against Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle, and San Francisco, it’ll be tough for Stidham and company to best the 12-4 mark that they made last season (which is really an inflated record based on the complete lack of competition they faced their first 8 games).
I really see this team finishing somewhere around 10-6 or 11-5. The funny thing will be watching a better playing team on the field with more chemistry and cohesion finish the season with a worse record than last year — even though last year’s team was at times just hard to watch.