What You Need To Know
Jarrett Stidham played in a stereotypical college system at Auburn that included a lot of screens and designed throws. The system almost forced Stidham to be somewhat of a “game manager” in college. No matter how good Stidham was in college he was never going to be given the opportunity to throw 30+ touchdowns a season. To give reference here, Joe Burrow played in a similar type of offense in 2018 and threw for 2,894 yards, 16 TDs and 5 INTs. Stidham threw for 2,794 yards 18 TDs and 5 INTs that same season. In 2019 LSU switched to a spread offense and Burrow was able to throw for 5,671 yards, 60 TDs and 6 INTs. If Stidham was given the keys to that LSU offense, he would’ve been a first-round pick as well.
His offensive teammates did not do him any favors either. It was incredible to see how many dropped passes his receivers had in his two seasons at Auburn. They also faced some of the best defenses in college football, and his lineman just could not handle elite pass rushing. Stidham was running for his life the majority of his college career which made film analysis quite difficult.
I think Stidham actually looked as comfortable as he ever has in the preseason with the Patriots. Jarrett turned heads in his first preseason in the NFL and looked very confident running the Patriots offense. Bill Belichick seems comfortable keeping the Quarterback room as is, which is a great sign for Jarrett Stidham’s potential. Stidham will have some phenomenal coaching and some receivers that are almost all coming off of injury-riddled seasons. If those weapons can stay healthy, Stidham should have a fair shot to prove he can play at the highest level.
Does His Job
Jarrett Stidham fits into the Bill Belichick mold. One thing Patriots fans have taken for granted for the last two decades is the routine plays. If you watch other teams you realize how many plays the Quarterback blows by missing his guy or making a bad decision. Stidham is a great player when everyone is doing their job. He consistently makes the right reads and delivers an accurate ball. He gets in trouble sometimes when his blockers miss assignments or his receivers fail to get open. That said, a team like the Patriots can consistently win games if the Quarterback is hitting all of his open throws and does not turn the ball over.
Here is Stidham leading a drive in the preseason. He is very comfortable against the pass rush and consistently getting the ball to his playmakers:
Out of 848 pass attempts Stidham only threw 13 interceptions in his college football career. Bill Belichick hates turnovers more than he hates stupid questions at press conferences. It makes sense why Belichick drafted Stidham when you watch how careful he is with the ball. A lot of Quarterbacks try to throw a ball into coverage when pressured, Stidham finds a way to get the ball to the sideline. Jarrett Stidham is willing to live for another down, which is one characteristic that made Tom Brady the greatest to ever do it.
In my opinion, the most exciting part of Stidham’s game is his accuracy. In situations where Stidham was able to run pro-style plays, he was able to put the ball where only the receiver could get it regularly. He does a great job of throwing back-shoulder balls that the defensive backs cannot go up and get. Granted he has missed completely on some of those tight windows, but he does so out of bounds. He was not given a ton of opportunities to throw the ball downfield into coverage. However, he did throw some perfect passes in solid coverage both in college and in the preseason.
Here is an example of perfect placement against Mississippi State in 2018:
Leans on Athleticism
Stidham is actually a pretty good runner and can make plays with his legs. When he decides to run up-field he has the ability to move the sticks. His problem in college was that he often tried to get to the edge and was easily tackled by anyone with solid pursuit angles. Instead of sitting in the pocket or running forward he would try to make a big play around the edge – most of the time he did not get there. This is another correctable, minor flaw but worth mentioning.
On this play Stidham decides to scramble with no open receivers. You can see a clear lane up the middle yet he rolls out left and doesn’t even make it back to the line of scrimmage.
It should be noted that Stidham did score a touchdown on a similar run later in the game, however, the outside runs were largely unsuccessful for him. He could become more like Josh Allen if he picks better lanes in the future.
The difference between Stidham and an elite Quarterback is that an elite Quarterback can beat you on a play that was defended almost perfectly. Jarrett Stidham has his moments, but he is not the magician that can create a big play out of nowhere like Mahomes can. People talk about not letting players like Mahomes or Lamar Jackson beat them on the second or third play. What they mean is that Mahomes can drop back and have zero open receivers and then make something out of nothing. This is not a huge knock on Stidham, but it’s the reason he won’t be seen as an MVP-caliber player.
Here is an example of Patrick Mahomes being faced with perfect coverage initially, and then taking the defenders away from their assignments to force a receiver open:
Missed the Shot Plays in College
One thing that probably hurt his draft stock was the amount of open “shot plays” he missed. There were a few wide open receivers downfield that he just missed. He is great at moving the ball downfield, but missed out on some easy touchdowns. He has plenty of arm strength and accuracy to make the throws, but he needs more experience throwing deep balls.
Biggest Pet Peeve
One thing that really stands out when watching Jarrett Stidham is the fact that his “clock” goes off too early sometimes. Stidham will roll out of the pocket to buy time even when facing a three-man rush and a clean pocket. Instead of buying time he actually gives the closest edge rusher a free lane to push Stidham to the sideline while cutting his field in half.
Here is one example against Washington where he had great protection and an open running back in the flat. He scrambled and was forced to throw the ball away with a defender bearing down on him.
This was a flaw in his game that really hurt his production at times. Luckily pocket awareness is something that can be massively improved studying under Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady. Stidham got a ton of practice reps in his rookie year while Brady battled an elbow injury for a majority of the season. Sitting out a season was probably the best thing for Stidham. He spent an entire season getting more comfortable passing in the pocket. I fully believe this issue may have already been corrected, we just will not find out until at least the preseason.
Overall Jarrett Stidham actually looks to be a solid starting Quarterback. I do not expect an All-Pro season in year one but I fully believe Josh McDaniels feels confident he can run his offense through Stidham. He will make the throws he needs to while refusing to turn the ball over. Having Julian Edelman to lean on makes it much easier for Stidham to move the ball downfield. N’Keal Harry could become an outside threat that Darius Slayton was for Stidham in college, and Sanu projects to have a big comeback year once fully healthy. If the defense plays well I think the Patriots will be a solid contender with Jarrett Stidham under center.
If you liked this article you can check out what I had to say about Jarrett Stidham fitting into New England: