Is Coach Bill Belichick Afraid Of How Good Jarrett Stidham Might Be?
The Patriots season will end in December for the first time in a long time.
There will be no need to rest players in week-17 in preparation for a playoff game.
There will be no playoff game.
All that is left is two meaningless games against the Bills and Jets.
Still, the players and the coaches will tell you that they are "all in" when it comes to trying to win these last two games. After all, they are paid to win football games.
But, is that always the case?
There are teams every year that are eliminated from playoff contention that don't always put all the have into winning the meaningless game(s) at the end of the season. Many use those games as a look into the future, by playing some fringe players that may or may not be on the roster the next season.
They use the meaningless game(s) as a way to get a better feel for what they have at certain positions and what they feel are positions that they need to address before the start of the next season.
So, why doesn't Bill Belichick let back-up QB Jarrett Stidham start these last two meaningless games?
Many fans have wanted to see more of Stidham before the season was lost to a potential sub-.500 season and a playoff spot was out of their reach.
Perhaps that's why Stidham doesn't appear to be in Belichick's plans when it comes to his starting QB.
Belichick has stuck with Cam Newton as his starting quarterback for every game this year, other than the week-4 game when he was unavailable due to testing positive for Covid-19. Even in that game Jarrett Stidham wasn't the teams starting quarterback. That job was handed to Brian Hoyer instead, who was the only back-up QB that was in uniform on game days thru the first three games of the season.
Hoyer played the first three quarters of that week-4 game against the Chiefs before he was pulled in favor of Stidham at the start of the 4th-quarter.
Hoyer was 15-of-24 for 130-yards with an interception and a QB rating of 59.
That was the last time Hoyer would wear a Patriots jersey on game day.
Jarrett Stidham became Cam Newton's back-up the rest of the way. He would collect 20 passing attempts over the next ten weeks. All of those attempts coming in mop-up duty at the tail-end of blowout losses.
Now that the team has been eliminated from the playoffs, why doesn't Stidham get a start so that we can see what he may have to offer for the next season and perhaps beyond that? What harm can it do?
If he sucks bad then we know it's time to look elsewhere for a QB, even one as a back-up. If he does well then we'd know he has a future with the team and could perhaps be a guy with starter potential. Perhaps that second scenario is exactly why he's not starting.
At this point the team has nothing to play for, and starting Stidham for the last two games can't change that. So is the upside of getting a closer look at Stidham worse than the downside of getting a closer look at him?
What could possibly be the downside, you ask?
What if Stidham plays at a high-level and the Patriots win these last two games?
That might be the downside that Belichick is trying to avoid.
Knowing that many have been calling for Stidham to get a chance after watching the well-below-average quarterback play of Newton all season long, is Belichick trying to avoid the potential questions as to why he wasn't getting an opportunity sooner, when the season was still salvageable?
Belichick will be second-guessed by a lot of people if that were to happen.
Starting Stidham can only hurt Belichick's stock.
If Stidham plays just as bad as Newton, or even worse, there will be nothing made of the move to start him in the last two meaningless games.
If Stidham plays well and looks like he could have provided the team a better chance to win enough games and get them into the playoffs, Belichick will lose some of the luster from his "Greatest coach of all-time" label.
Nobody questions Belichick's decisions. That's just the way it goes.
And now it appears he won't be giving you the potential opportunity to do so with this situation either.