When the dust settled on the 2020 NFL Draft, New England Patriots fans were less than pleased. After reports tied the team to about half a dozen quarterback prospects including big names like Tua Tagovailoa and Jordan Love, the Pats didn’t take a single one.
Instead they opted to sign a slew of undrafted free agents at the position to join 2019 fourth round pick Jarrett Stidham and journeyman veteran Brian Hoyer.
But nobody should have been stunned by the Patriots picks. Nothing is more on script for Bill Belichick than to trade out of the first round to draft a Division II safety at the top of the second. It was clear that Belichick did not see his QB of the future on the board at 23 and decided his picks were better used elsewhere.
The move to not take a quarterback was seen by many as the Patriots packing it in for the 2020 season. The consensus seems to be that the team will start Stidham, do a whole lot of losing, and find Tom Brady’s heir apparent next off-season. The biggest question in many Patriots fans minds is what color they should buy their Trevor Lawrence jersey in.
As tempting as it may be, I don’t believe it’s time to write the 2020 New England Patriots off just yet. Their QB situation may not be as dire as it appears at first glance. People have done nothing but speculate how Jarrett Stidham will do under center this year forgetting that there is another QB in contention for the starting spot.
Brian Hoyer has been on seven teams over the course of his 11 year career. His numbers don’t jump off the page at you. He has started 38 games in his career and has only won 16 of them, and he has only been a full time starter twice. He is, for all intents and purposes, a game manager, but what if that is all that the Belichick needs?
Hear me out. The Patriots don’t need a gunslinger that’s going to throw for 350 yards a game to win. This is a team that won games last season with the outstanding play of their defense. A defense that is mostly intact coming into this year. They need a veteran QB who can manage the game and run a Josh McDaniels offense.
Although not under McDaniels, Brian Hoyer spent the first three years of his career with the Patriots. He also had a second stint with New England from 2017-2018 when McDaniels was there. Hoyer knows what is expected of him, and he won’t try to do too much.
The Patriots offense is full of screen passes, quick slants, and gadget plays that allow talented playmakers like Julian Edelman and James White to turn a 5 yard pass into a 20 yard gain. This kind of playbook doesn’t require a super strong arm, but it does require a high IQ and experienced quarterback at the helm, and that is much more Brian Hoyer than Jarrett Stidham.
It is not like New England is downgrading from an All-Pro QB either. The Patriots offense ranked a mediocre 15th in yards per game last season, and they struggled mightily in the second half of the season. Brady wasn’t the only one to blame, but he certainly played a role in the team’s shortcomings on that side of the ball.
Although he finished 7th in passing yards, his completion percentage was a horrendous 61%, and he finished 19th in passer rating, which was just above rookies Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray.
He threw his fewest number of touchdowns in a season since 2006. He missed throws that he doesn’t usually miss, and he looked downright inaccurate all season. The idea that the Patriots are losing an elite version of Tom Brady is just not true.
Hoyer won’t have to shoulder the offensive load himself either. Last year, the Patriots lost Center David Andrews and Tackle Isaiah Wynn to injury. The running game immediately took a hit. With these players healthy this season and the addition of tight end/fullback Dalton Keene in the third round of the draft, the running lanes should be much bigger for New England’s talented group of running backs.
Hoyer may not be the flashy and strong armed quarterback that Patriots fans were hoping for, but if he can keep the mistakes to a minimum and the Patriots can reestablish the running game they had two years ago, there is no reason that this team won’t be playing January football.