NFL commentators regularly drop pearls of wisdom on TV broadcasts gleaned from their exclusive network availability with head coaches.
That happened Sunday when the New England Patriots took on the Miami Dolphins. CBS’s Ian Eagle and Charles Davis asked Belichick last week before the game about “playing rookies and the quarterback position in particular.”
Eagle relayed the following from the Patriots head coach:
“‘Look, we’re in a new world in the NFL,’” Belichick said, via Eagle. “‘You have a young QB, if he’s drafted high, you don’t have forever to figure out whether or not he’s your guy.’”
“And the idea that you can go back to the high school or the college experiences to try to assess that, he doesn’t believe that translates unless you come from a pro-style offense,” Eagle added.
“He said that helps a little bit,” Davis said. “The NFL is just so different.”
Most obviously, this dictates how the Patriots might deploy a young quarterback if they take one early in the 2021 NFL Draft. Players like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Florida’s Kyle Trask or Alabama’s Mac Jones could be available for New England to grab in the first or second round. The Patriots could sign a veteran quarterback to start the season before turning to a rookie quickly.
That quote also could apply to Patriots 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, who has yet to start an NFL game 30 games into his career. The Patriots seemed willing to enter the 2020 NFL season with Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer at quarterback before signing Cam Newton in July. Stidham began the season third on the Patriots’ QB depth chart before passing Hoyer in Week 6. Stidham is 18-of-33 for 212 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions (one of which came on a drop) this season in mop-up duty.
All of this is to say, if the Patriots don’t have “forever to figure out whether or not (Stidham is their) guy,” and if the Patriots don’t start him over the final two weeks of the 2020 season, perhaps the decision whether he is the “guy” has already been made.
Belichick hasn’t committed to start Cam Newton nor Stidham for Monday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills. Stidham is the only Patriots quarterback under contract for the 2021 season. Newton and Hoyer are free agents, and the Patriots could sign practice-squadder Jake Dolegala to a future deal after the season.