Brian Hoyer

Is it time for Patriots to find The Next Guy?

Is it time for Patriots to find The Next Guy?

Before free agency kicks off, and before we dissect the top college prospects entering this year's draft, we're taking a look at the Patriots on a position-by-position basis to provide you with an offseason primer of sorts. We'll be analyzing how the Patriots performed in 2017 at the position in question, who's under contract, how badly the team needs to add talent at that spot, and how exactly Bill Belichick might go about adding that talent. Today we're tackling the position that just might make this the most important draft season in Patriots history: Quarterback.

OTHER ENTRIES IN THE SERIES

 

HOW THEY PERFORMED


Tom Brady was the NFL MVP for the third time and his play at 40 years old might just give the Patriots the leeway to wait another year to draft The Next Guy. The argument could be made - and should be made, in my opinion - that the Patriots need to draft a quarterback this spring. But given the way Brady looked, if the right player isn't there this time around, the Patriots could wait until next year and they'd still probably be OK at the most important position at the roster. Despite taking a beating early in the season, and despite battling through a variety of injuries throughout the season, Brady led the league in passing yardage and was third when it came to QB rating. He was fifth in completion percentage and fifth in yards per attempt. He's said before he'll retire when he sucks. He's a long way off. 

WHO IS UNDER CONTRACT FOR 2018?


Brady, Brian Hoyer

 

HOW DIRE IS THE NEED?

 


The severity of the need all depends on the window of time you're looking at. Do they need a quarterback tomorrow? Of course not. But don't kid yourself. They need one. And soon. If the Patriots can figure out a way to get Nate Solder back in the fold, adding a promising young player at this spot should shoot to the top of the offseason's to do list. Even without Solder, because of the importance of the QB position, the Patriots may believe finding Brady's eventual successor is the key to the offseason. Drafting a quarterback in the first round this season would give the Patriots a passer under contract through 2022. Brady will turn 45 years old that summer.

 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN FREE AGENCY?

 


Man, is it going to be fun to talk about this position this offseason. Things got weird when Washington traded for Alex Smith and handed him a long-term extension with the former Niners and Chiefs QB. That means Kirk Cousins would certainly be on his way to a new city in a matter of months. And things should only get weirder from there. All three Vikings quarterbacks -- Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater -- are scheduled to hit free agency. Nick Foles is under contract in Philly but could be made available in a trade. Drew Brees, meanwhile, is scheduled to become a free agent as well. What's it all mean for the Patriots? They probably won't be interested in veteran passers, but where the above names land will alter the league-wide landscape when it comes to draft weekend. And because this is expected to be one of the deepest quarterback drafts in years, the Patriots could benefit if, after all the movement, a talented rookie signal-caller ends up falling into their laps. 

 

WHAT'S AVAILABLE IN THE DRAFT?

 


Where to start? Want the most statistically accomplished quarterback in the history of college football? Someone with big-time leadership skills and an outsized (at times abrasive) personality to match? That's Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. USC's Sam Darnold may have the highest ceiling of any passer in this class. UCLA's Josh Rosen throws a pretty ball but there are questions as to how he'll move at the next level. Wyoming's Josh Allen looks like he was built in a quarterback lab, but his accuracy is all over the map. Louisville's Lamar Jackson is the most talented runner at the position since Michael Vick, but his mechanics could use some cleaning up, and he'll need the right scheme in order to succeed. All of those players could be gone in the first round. And four of those six could be gone in the top six picks. If you're the Patriots, that might be OK. Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Richmond's Kyle Lauletta could be available on Day 2 and may represent good value in the eyes of Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio. 

 

HOW CAN THE PATRIOTS ADDRESS IT?

 


This just might be the most important draft in Patriots history. It’s bigger than 1993, I think, back when the choice was Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer. The Patriots couldn't screw that one up. But that was about becoming competitive. Every decision the Patriots make now is about trying to extend their unparalleled run. Without the No. 1 overall pick, the current challenge is greater. It's certainly greater than it was back in 2014, when they drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round. Back then, they knew they had some breathing room to develop Brady's successor. Now, even though Brady just won the MVP, that window has been minimized. The team can’t bank on Brady making it to 45. The choice has to be to make a contingency plan, and to make it quickly, with a young player who the team believes has the intelligence, the arm and the leadership to be The Next Guy. He'll also need the requisite poise not to be shaken when he’s dubbed The Next Guy. Lump all of those things together, and that player will be hard to find - even in a loaded quarterback class - so how do the Patriots make sure they get him? Use a first-round pick, if they have to. Trade up, if they have to. The Patriots may be certain their man will slip to the second. Maybe they’ll be confident they can actually draft the next Garoppolo with the pick they received in exchange for Garoppolo months ago. But because the future of the most important position on their roster is so tightly bound to the health of a 40-year-old, it feels like they really can't afford to wait around.

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Belichick on if Brady could be a game-time decision: 'Today is Friday'

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Belichick on if Brady could be a game-time decision: 'Today is Friday'

FOXBORO -- The answer made sense, but taken in a vacuum it was kind of funny. And it was indicative of the relatively abbreviated answers that littered Bill Belichick's Friday press conference, which was dominated by Tom Brady queries and questions about quarterback play in general.

Will Brady be a game-time decision for the AFC title game because of his right-hand injury, Belichick was asked? 

"Today," Belichick replied, "is Friday."

The inference is that he doesn't know the answer. Kickoff is more than 48 hours away, and a lot can happen before then. Plus, there's a practice in between, and Brady's performance during that practice -- if he performs at all -- could factor into determining his status. 

Thus, "Today is Friday." As in, "We have to wait and see."

Belichick was asked if there was any update on Brady's status for Sunday earlier in the presser, and the response was, "We gave out the injury report yesterday. We'll update it today."

When that injury report came out later Friday, Brady was listed as questionable. It's the first time he's been questionable for a playoff game in his career. 

Has Brady's injury, and the fact that he missed Thursday's practice altogether, impacted the team's preparation for Sunday? That, too, was side-stepped.

"We're going to continue to get ready for Jacksonville," Belichick said, "all the way through up until game time."

Most are expecting Brady to play against the Jaguars in the AFC Championship. The only question is how effective he'll be. Should backup Brian Hoyer be forced into action, however, Belichick relayed that Hoyer has done everything he's been asked. 

"Brian does a great job for us," Belichick said. "Works hard. Practices hard. Does a good job."

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

MORE BRADY:

So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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