After the departure of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham has become the first quarterback on the New England Patriots’ depth chart. Stidham was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft but his rookie season was spent on the bench watching one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time on the field.
However, this year, the Auburn product will be put to the test as he enters as the starter of the New England Patriots.
Before looking at his over/under numbers and revealing one wicked take for the week, let’s shed some light on some of Stidham’s college numbers as well as his preseason numbers from last year.
In 2017, Stidham led Auburn to the Peach Bowl against UCF but fell short of victory as they lost 34-27. Although the loss came with a sour end, Auburn finished as the 10th-ranked team in the country and Stidham finished as a conference leader in completion percentage at 66.5 percent and second in total passing yards with 3,158.
Broke down Jarrett Stidham’s college film:
In 2017 he led Auburn over an undefeated Alabama team who went on to win the national championship (All 11 Bama defensive players now play in the NFL)
Elusive, smart decision making, accurate, throws good deep 🏈pic.twitter.com/tguNinyX1L
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) May 8, 2020
Many people like to argue that Stidham had a fallout year in 2018 with Auburn. While it may not have looked as good on paper, he still put together a solid season. Stidham threw for 2,794 yards and 18 touchdowns and finished with a quarterback efficiency rate of 137.7 in his 2018 season. He also led Auburn, an SEC team that faces the likes of LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, to the Music City Bowl against Purdue and trambled on them, 63-14.
Stidham did not bring home a Heisman, but he did win several awards such as the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Walter Camp Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, Maxwell Award, and Davey O’Brien Award. These awards signify that coaches, sportswriters, and non-profit organizations believed Stidham was the top quarterback in the country and showed his leadership on and off the field.
As we all know, Stidham was drafted in the fourth round of the draft in 2019 by the Patriots. In the preseason, Stidham’s line in four games looked like this:
- Passing: 61-for-90 (67.8 percent), 731 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, 102.6 QBR
- Rushing: 17 carries, 88 yards
When looking at this line, Patriots fans should feel optimistic about the ability and the potential hidden behind Stidham. Stidham will be different from Brady as he is a dual-threat quarterback who can use his feet to also make plays. McDaniels could have a variety of plays stowed away that are designed primarily for Stidham and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket.
I trust Belichick And McDaniels, I’m all in on Stidham being the next franchise quarterback for the #Patriots
Some don’t know but he was recruited as a dual threat quarterback out of high school with great mobility to make plays out of the pocket pic.twitter.com/pRx3a6G8u3
— The Italian Stallion (@GCincinnato_22) May 7, 2020
After reviewing the past stats for Stidham and also looking at his film, here is Stidham’s projected stat line for his debut season as a starter:
- Passing: 317-for-510 (62.2 percent) 3,487 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions, 95.8 QBR
- Rushing: 74 carries for 320 yards and four touchdowns
- Starting Record: 11-5
The Patriots should go 11-5 and win the division behind Stidham. His 32 total touchdowns will help lead the Patriots to their 13th straight division title.
This is our wicked take for the week because there is a legitimate reason to believe in Stidham’s ability to thrive under McDaniels and Belichick. Some fans wouldn’t put this much confidence in the first-year starter. This projection is optimistic and can go either way based on Stidham’s past in college football where he never broke past a 3,000-yard season.
However, when given more opportunities to pass the ball, Stidham will be able to get past the 3,000-yard mark and throw for at least this projection of 3,487 yards. The Patriots will rush the ball more this season but that should benefit Stidham and his production as well.
Patriots wide receive Devin Ross was interviewed on the Wicked Take Podcast last week, when he praised his quarterback on his knowledge of the offense and skill.
“[Stidham] knows the offense like the back of his hand,” said Ross. “I love the way he throws the ball.”
As a comparison to the situation at hand, Matt Cassel, an inexperienced quarterback, was thrown into the role as a starting quarterback for the Patriots in 2008. Belichick and McDaniels gave Cassel many opportunities to throw the ball even though he had never started a game in the NFL. With Cassel under center, they still threw the ball 534 times while notching 513 handoffs. Cassel was on the team since 2005 and understood the offense, but he is not as talented as Stidham and did not possess the same potential that the Auburn product currently has.