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Commentary: Stidham and the Patriots offense are bad enough to miss the postseason

  • New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham warms up before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough, Mass., in 2019. Stidham, the presumptive starter next season, may be one of many offensive problems the Pats will face in 2020. AP — Charles Krupa

New York Daily News
Published: 5/14/2020 5:27:09 PM
Modified: 5/14/2020 5:26:59 PM

On paper, the Patriots appear to have the worst quarterback situation in the league. A quarterback situation that’s bad enough to tank their entire season.

New England has been arguably the most successful sports franchise in the world over the past two decades, but that doesn’t mean they’re infallible. Just because Bill Belichick and the rest of the organization seem to be confident in Jarrett Stidham as the starting QB doesn’t mean it’s actually a sound plan.

Stidham very well may be the next under-drafted gem at quarterback in the league. However, he hasn’t done anything to suggest that he can be that guy. The last time Stidham got meaningful in-game reps was in a Week 3 blowout win over the Jets. Stidham went into the game for Tom Brady, threw a pick-six on his third throw of the game, and was promptly benched in favor of Brady.

If the Patriots weren’t in a position to compete this season, maybe rolling into the season with Stidham would be more defensible. But New England’s defense should still be among the best in the league this year, led by a veteran secondary that allowed just 6.0 yards per pass attempt last year, second in the NFL.

Not having any legitimate competition for Stidham outside of Brian Hoyer seems like a bigger risk than we’re used to New England taking. It’s not like Stidham was seen as a can’t-miss prospect in the 2019 NFL draft — or even a highly touted one. He had a modest collegiate career, was drafted in the fourth round, and now he’s being thrust into a position that has demanded excellence for 20 straight years.

Part of why Stidham is being handed the starting job is the Patriots’ cap situation. According to Over The Cap, New England has just a little more than $1 million in cap space right now. That’s not enough to sign someone like Cam Newton and fit their newly drafted rookies underneath the cap. Unless they trade Joe Thuney, their franchise player that’s counting roughly $14.8 million against the cap, this is the quarterback situation New England is stuck with.

Luckily for Stidham, the cupboard isn’t completely bare for the Patriots on offense. Thuney is a Pro Bowl-level offensive guard when healthy, and Shaq Mason, Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews and Marcus Cannon make up the rest of a talented offensive line (when healthy). If all those guys can avoid injury, Stidham will at least have the protection he needs to throw the ball.

Unfortunately, that’s where the positivity within the Patriots’ supporting cast stops. Running back Sony Michel has been a bust since the Patriots drafted him one pick before Lamar Jackson in the 2018 NFL draft. N’Keal Harry caught 12 passes for 105 yards during his rookie year. Mohamed Sanu averaged 25.9 yards per game in eight games with the Patriots after they acquired him from Atlanta for a second-round pick. Matt LaCosse and a gang of rookies will hold down the tight end spot.

Outside of Julian Edelman and James White, New England’s offensive supporting cast is barren. Having Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to scheme players open will help, but the offensive talent is severely lacking. That doesn’t bode well for Stidham’s chances this season.

After years of waiting for the Patriots to fall off, this seems like the first time New England isn’t a serious contender in two decades. Their offensive supporting cast is weak and they have an unproven commodity at quarterback who wasn’t highly valued coming into the NFL.

Of course, if there’s any coach that could figure out how to guide this offense to the postseason, it’s Belichick. Or maybe they’ll be so bad they get their hands on Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields in the 2021 draft and continue their reign of dominance over the NFL.




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