Let’s take an in-depth look at what the New England Patriots see in their second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is poised to be the 2020 starter.
Depending on how you look at it, Stidham has a proven track record of being a successful competitor in the gridiron.
After becoming the starter for Baylor during his freshman season, Stidham then transferred to Auburn and became the starter as a walk-on junior … all before getting drafted to the Patriots and beating out a veteran quarterback in Brian Hoyer to become the backup to the one-and-only Tom Brady.
Now, in just his second year in the league, Stidham has apparently proved enough to Bill Belichick and the Patriots staff that he is capable of leading the team to success this season after sitting behind Brady for one year.
To put Stidham and the team in the best position possible moving forward, the Patriots finally have a healthy offensive line that is already considered to be one of the best in the league, in addition to having the best defensive secondary in the league as well.
Let’s take a look at everything we know up to this point about the next starting quarterback of the New England Patriots — the young and inexperienced Jarrett Stidham — and what his potential is going to be as a first-year starter.
Although we only have a small sample size to work with from the regular season, Stidham absolutely crushed his rookie preseason. In fact, Stidham put together the best preseason for any rookie quarterback in Bill Belichick’s 20-year coaching tenure in New England.
To get a better idea, here is how Stidham compares to the last five quarterbacks Belichick has drafted over the last 10 years:
- Stidham (2019): 61-of-90 for 731 yards, 4 TD’s, 1 INT
- Danny Etling (2018): 20-of-38 for 178 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
- Jacoby Brissett (2016): 38-of-56 or 387 yards, 1 TD
- Jimmy Garoppolo (2014): 46-of-79 for 618 yards, 5 TD’s, 1 INT
- Ryan Mallett (2011): 36-of-63 for 357 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Brian Hoyer (2009): 29-of-44 for 354 yards, 1 TD
Throughout last year’s preseason, we learned that Stidham has great pocket awareness and is capable of hitting all the passes — short, intermediate, and deep routes.
After watching every throw from Stidham during the 2019 preseason, I learned that he has a high release point that allows him to put extra torque in his throws — especially when stepping up into the pocket — resulting in a strongly and beautifully-thrown ball.
While doing so, Stidham has an incredibly calm posture for a young quarterback. In addition to his high release point, he stands straight, keeps his shoulders aligned, and drives the ball through his hips for a level and accurate throwing motion.
To build off of Stidham’s calm posture and level throwing motion, he keeps a strong and wide base when throwing the ball. Stidham also has great spacing between his drops and understands when to step up and let it rip.
What allows Stidham to put a soft touch on his passes is the slight rotation of his body. While keeping a stable base with his hips, he opens his chest up with his off hand in proper position for his back swing, and finishes by putting just the right amount of air underneath the ball to fall in his receiver’s hands.
Furthermore, Chris Simms ranked Stidham as the 35th best quarterback in the NFL this season. On ProFootballTalk with Mike Florio, Simms has been on record saying that Stidham was a first-round talent coming into the 2019 NFL Draft.
Despite Stidham primarily working out of the shotgun, his overall footwork within the pocket has improved immensely throughout the course of his rookie season.
In doing so, Stidham has created a very nice play action routine that will eventually open up more plays for the New England Patriots.
Although it’s too early for comparisons, Stidham and Brady have a very similar play action routine. Mostly done in one motion while taking two steps, they each turn to extend the ball with a strong arm towards the running back, but while pulling the ball back in very quickly to execute the pass.
Most play action passes seem the same, but each quarterback goes about them differently. Some will extend their arm to the running back without the ball, while others will literally put the ball in the runner’s gut before pulling it back to themselves for the pass.
So there are many different ways to execute the play action … but Stidham is remarkably reminiscent of Brady in that aspect.
Stidham is by no means the fastest quarterback in the league, but he is also by far more agile and has more speed than what the Patriots had been accustomed to for the last 20 years with Brady.
At the 2019 combine, Stidham clocked in a 4.81 second 40-yard dash (Brady ran 5.28 in 2000).
The Patriots aren’t interested in having their quarterback be more mobile than he already needs to be during any given play. Stidham definitely has the skills to be elusive and make defenders miss, but it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to outrun these now very versatile and athletic linebackers in the NFL.
With a more athletic player under center, there’s always a chance that we’ll see the New England Patriots incorporate some read option or RPO type of plays with Stidham commanding the offense.
It’s also worth mentioning that the average hand size for an NFL quarterback seems to be at least 10 inches and anything less is considered to be small for a quarterback. Stidham’s hands measured 9.13 inches at the NFL Combine last year.
Although hand size definitely doesn’t tell the full narrative of a quarterback, it is another factor that scouts and teams are interested in with today’s NFL.
With that said, three out of the four quarterbacks that made it to the championship round last year — Patrick Mahomes, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Ryan Tannehill — all have hands that are 9.25 inches.
All in all, despite Jarrett Stidham being inexperienced in the NFL, he does however have experience in the New England Patriots system. Stidham could prove that he is the quarterback for the future as the Patriots progress and move forward with their franchise.