It's always tough being the guy who follows the guy, and that's the challenge Jarrett Stidham likely will face during the 2020 NFL season.
Tom Brady left the Patriots as a free agent in March after winning six Super Bowl titles and setting plenty of records in his 20 years with the franchise. Next up at quarterback figures to be Stidham, who's the favorite to win the starting job over veteran Brian Hoyer.
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Being the one to replace Brady is going to put tons of pressure on Stidham. Fans, fairly or not, will expect great performances from him right away. And, as anyone who lives in this region understands, these fans aren't afraid to call out players who don't play at a high level.
Should we be confident Stidham can handle the spotlight? Troy head coach Chip Lindsey, who was the offensive coordinator at Auburn during Stidham's time with the Tigers, seems to think so.
“I know he’s extremely excited about this opportunity,” Lindsey told NESN.com's Doug Kyed. “I think he’s a guy that’s kind of -- when you come play at Auburn in the SEC. I don’t know how much you’re familiar with this league or not, but you’re under the microscope every week. You’re playing the biggest game of the week every week it seems like.
"He’s had his fair share of being in the limelight, good and bad, and I think he understands very well that, as a quarterback, by nature of the position, you get more credit than you deserve and more blame than you deserve. I think he’s totally comfortable with that and very comfortable with himself, which I think will serve him well.”
Lindsey is right about the SEC. No other conference in college football puts players under more pressure. It's the best conference in the nation, and 11 of the 19 FBS champions this century call it home. It's not the same as the NFL, obviously, but playing in that kind of environment where just about every opponent has NFL-caliber players on defense certainly benefited Stidham.
The only way to find out if Stidham can be a quality starting quarterback at the pro level is to give him a chance, and based on everything we've seen from the Patriots this offseason, it looks like his opportunity will come sooner rather than later.