NFL Rumors: Patriots Reportedly Had Little Faith In Jarrett Stidham As Starting Quarterback

New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham throws a pass.
Gettyimages | Bob Levey
Football

Right after Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 NFL season, former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham was hailed as the eventual seven-time Super Bowl champion's heir apparent at quarterback. However, that didn't come to pass, as the Patriots opted to start former league MVP Cam Newton for the entirety of the campaign. As a recent report suggests, there might have been a few reasons why this was the case.

Patriots Officials And Players Allegedly Doubted Stidham

New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham attempts a pass in training camp.
Gettyimages | Pool

As quoted on Saturday by Sports Illustrated, Boston Sports Journal reporter Greg Bedard revealed on this week's edition of "The Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast" that Patriots players and officials alike were supposedly skeptical about Stidham's ability to lead his team to victory.

"I came to learn was more about how the other players viewed Stidham, more than anything else," Bedard explained. "And you could even see that when he got into the games and the way he conducted the huddle. For whatever reason – and I don’t know if it was the training camp injury or the offseason thing or what have you, or the way he just conducts himself – there’s not a lot of belief (in him) in that building."

Newton Struggled In His First Season In New England

Cam Newton of the New England Patriots scrambles with the ball.
Gettyimages | Abbie Parr

With the Patriots using Stidham as a third-stringer in 2020, Newton started 15 of 16 games for the team, which missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record. According to Pro Football Reference, the veteran signal-caller started 15 games, throwing for only 2,657 yards with eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, and an 82.9 QB rating.  He did, however, tally 592 rushing yards and score 12 touchdowns on the ground.

Journeyman Brian Hoyer started one game when Newton sat out due to a positive COVID-19 test result.

The Patriots Went With Newton Over Stidham Even After Elimination

New England Patriots quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Cam Newton stand on the sidelines.
Gettyimages | Maddie Meyer

As pointed out by Sports Illustrated, New England head coach Bill Belichick remained committed to using Newton over Stidham behind center even as the Patriots were eliminated from postseason contention well before the end of the 2020 campaign. This, per the outlet, continued even as the former No. 1 overall draft pick averaged a subpar 103 passing yards between Week 12 and Week 16. 

These numbers represented a significant decline from the statistics he posted during his nine-season stint with the Carolina Panthers.

The Pats Reportedly Feared A 'Debacle' If Stidham Started

Jarrett Stidham of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gettyimages | Jamie Squire

Although the Patriots had a chance to give Stidham a "test run" behind center after they were officially eliminated, Sports Illustrated further quoted Bedard, who explained why Belichick insisted on starting Newton during this stretch. He explained that there was a "feeling" within the organization that Stidham's performance would lead to a "complete debacle" on the field.

All in all, Stidham finished 2020 with 256 passing yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 50 percent completion percentage in five games off the bench.