Updated: Apr 8
With Tom Brady gone, it seems likely that the reigns have been handed to the 23 year old out of Auburn, Jarrett Stidham.
There are a few reasons that I think the Patriots are going to stick with Jarrett Stidham, rather than drafting someone like Tua Tagovailoa, or signing someone like Andy Dalton. The primary reason though, is that remember who is at the helm: Bill Belichick. Belichick wants to prove that he can groom Stidham into a franchise QB, and doesn't need to go add someone else who has already proven themselves.
I have a lot of faith in Stidham. First of all, while Bill Belichick has taken some recent criticism about his drafting, he knows how to find quarterbacks. He's missed on a few, but his hits (Jacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garroppolo, and, oh yeah, Tom Brady), make up for them. He knows how to find quality passers, who maybe didn't look like superstars in college, but just needed a change of style. None of Brady, Garroppolo, or Brissett were first round picks, and all were major steals.
The similarities between Stidham and Brady go beyond just the fact that they were both later round picks (Brady was taken 199th overall, and Stidham 133rd). They both started two years in college, and both were greatly mis-used in college, Brady at Michigan, and Stidham at Auburn.
Stidham is a pro style quarterback, but Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn did not want to play a style of football like that. He was still clinging to the success of Cam Newton and Nick Marshall in his program, which favored the run, misdirection, and throwing play action off of multiple fakes. He didn't play to Stidham's strength, which is his arm, and his accuracy. Oh, and by the way, the Patriots have been playing a style like that for the last twenty years with Brady.
Many scouts believe that had Stidham attended a more pass happy school, he would have been a first round pick. Bill Belichick and the Patriots emphasized his high football IQ as a primary reason that they drafted him (remind you of anyone?). This past October, Belichick said that, "Jarrett is a smart kid. He picks up things very quickly," he added, "He has handled everything we've thrown at him." In addition, Stidham has a full year under his belt practicing against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Patriots defensive back, Devin McCourty said that "There were weeks where he was just on point. And those were some of our best weeks as a defense, mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game." Stidham has clearly garnered the respect of not only his coaches, but also his teammates. Not just McCourty have come forward stating their support and belief that Stidham will be a successful quarterback.
While Tom Brady might not have been happy with the offensive weapons on the Patriots, they might just be the perfect guys for a young and developing quarterback like Stidham. WR1 Julian Edelman runs great routes, and catches everything. Dual threat running back James White catches more passes than rushes. N'Keal Harry is a big, talented wide receiver, who just needs time to complete his game. Don't expect the Pats offense to be near the top of the league or anything, but they might be able to hold their own, and let the defense lead them to victories.
Now don't get me wrong: next season, I don't expect them to contend for a Super Bowl. I think that they are going to have a very tough time holding off the Buffalo Bills atop the division, who I think are the favorites going into the season. All I am saying is this: the Pats don't need to go waste huge money on a free agent like Cam Newton or Jameis Winston for just a few years of success. I think that they will probably draft a QB in this coming draft, but I don't think it's necessary to trade up to get someone like Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. Have some faith, trust the process, and give Stidham a shot to lead this franchise.
Pats fans, welcome to the era of STUDHAM!