Just how long of a leash is Bill Belichick going to give Jarrett Stidham if the New England Patriots quarterback struggles early in 2020?
For whatever reason, there seem to be just as many prominent people out there who think Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots in 2020 as there are people convinced that it will be Jarrett Stidham under center this fall.
Well, for starters, Hoyer has a vast wealth of experience compared to Stidham at the professional level.
Whereas the 23-year-old Stidham has tasted action in just three career regular season games, the 34-year-old Hoyer has played in 69 career regular season games. Stidham has thrown just four passes in the regular season; Hoyer has thrown nearly 1,500.
On the surface, it’s easy to see why Bill Belichick could potentially favor Hoyer over Stidham.
Critics will be quick to point out that Stidham beat out Hoyer for the No. 2 job last year in New England … but in all honesty, that was a completely different situation.
Tom Brady was still the unquestioned starter atop the depth chart at the time, and the Patriots knew it was smarter to keep a young prospect locked up right behind Brady than a veteran they were already all too familiar with.
Besides, Hoyer has been released or traded from the team and then brought back to Foxborough before in his 11 NFL seasons. This actually marks his third stint with the Pats now that he’s back on the roster again as of March.
Rob Ninkovich, a former Patriots great and now a TV analyst for ESPN, seems to think that Hoyer will definitely get the start in Week 1 of the 2020 regular season over Stidham:
"“If you have a veteran quarterback who has been in the system, understands what to expect, what an NFL season is like … you’re gonna want to go with a guy who has the veteran leadership (and) also has what it takes to be in that building. Look, when you’re a second-year player, you really don’t realize what a season’s like as a starter. You don’t understand what it’s going to take, and not having an offseason does not help. So, Brian Hoyer will be the starter Week 1.”"
Despite Hoyer’s experience, many believe Stidham will be QB1 for Patriots
While Ninkovich certainly brings up some good points, more people outside the organization still seem to believe that Stidham will get the start — especially if he’s able to outshine Hoyer in training camp and the preseason later this summer, and assuming there is a training camp and preseason later this summer in the midst of the pandemic.
If indeed Stidham does get the start, it will be interesting to see just how patient and forgiving Belichick is with him should he struggle.
Obviously, you’d assume that any quarterback is going to have some growing pains if they’re making their first-ever regular season starts in the NFL. It happens to everyone — it even once happened to Brady.
The difference, of course, is that the Patriots don’t really look like a team that’s in full rebuilding mode this season.
If they had torn everything down and traded away their best players (and some of their older players) for developmental projects and draft prospects, then maybe you could make the argument that Belichick was committed to “tanking” or building for the future.
In that scenario, Stidham’s success or failure each week wouldn’t really matter as much, since he’d be getting evaluated in the same way everyone else on the roster was.
Since New England didn’t tear everything down and start the rebuild, you have to believe that Belichick still believes the Patriots can contend this year with an above-average roster — and a particularly strong defense.
Hopefully, Stidham is a boon to this team this year. But if he struggles at all, would Belichick consider yanking him in favor of someone more experienced and presumably more stable at the QB position — someone like Hoyer?
I think it’s extremely possible. We’ll just have to wait and see.