By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Almost everything about the quarterback position is a complete mystery for the 2020 New England Patriots.
It’s likely to remain that way until the team steps on the field for the first official workout of the upcoming season, too. Veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer and 2019 draft pick Jarrett Stidham are the Patriots’ options at this point, but everybody knows the Patriots to add a third name to the competition to the mix at this week’s NFL Draft. How that third factors into the mix remains to be seen, of course, and same for the one-two depth chart when it comes to Hoyer and Stidham. Some believe that Hoyer will be the guy, while others believe that Stidham has the ‘inside track’ on the starting gig.
In other words, and once again, nobody knows who the heck is going to be under center when things kick off on 2020.
But Stidham’s college coach, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, gave the second-year pro a ringing endorsement heading into next year.
“Jarrett’s very steady,” Malzahn said in an interview with CBS Sports Radio’s Zach Gelb last week. “When he was with us, he had the ability to play his best games when the stakes were the highest.
“2017, [we] played Georgia and they were No. 1. He played his best game. Two weeks later we played Alabama [and] they were No. 1. He played his best game, and led us to the SEC championship.”
Against Georgia, Stidham completed 16-of-23 passes for 214 yards and three scores, and added a score on the ground. And against Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, Stidham completed 21-of-28 attempts for 237 yards, and while he was held off the scoresheet through the air, Stidham had 52 yards and a score on the ground.
And perhaps most importantly, Stidham’s “best” was indeed enough to seal the deal on a victory for Malzahn’s Tigers in both contests.
The efforts were simply microcosms of that “very steady” two-year run at Auburn that included 5,952 yards, 36 touchdowns, and a 63.6 completion percentage in 27 games. (The Tigers also went 18-9 with Stidham as their starting quarterback.)
But Malzahn’s confidence in Stidham goes beyond the performances in big games, as he did everything but outright call him a dream pupil for Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“He’s a very solid person,” Malzahn noted. “He’s kind of a gym rat. He really understands the game of football, really, from a coach’s standpoint. So I think the system that they run really fits him well, and I expect him to be very successful.”