Patriots

Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty offer thoughts on Tom Brady replacement options

Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty offer thoughts on Tom Brady replacement options

Tom Brady is no longer the New England Patriots' starting quarterback. But while the team is facing some uncertainty at the position, some of the players on the squad seem confident in the team's quarterback options.

Those options are second-year pro Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, who reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots on Sunday to mark his third stint with the team. Stidham is the prohibitive favorite to win the starting job, and it seems that some of his veteran-most teammates are ready to support him if that happens.

On "The Double Coverage Podcast", Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty spoke about the two quarterbacks and what they may be able to provide for the team. And Devin seemed particularly high on the potential of Stidham, who he lovingly calls "Stiddy."

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“I think, to me, the best thing for Stiddy was he had to go against our defense every week. He didn’t have it easy,” Devin McCourty said. “I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we'd make eye contact and he'd just start smiling and laughing.

"To me, there were weeks he was just on point and those were some of our best weeks as a defense mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game, and I think put more pressure on us. So, I really admire just how hard he works and I've gotten to know him off the field as well. He's a really good guy. Young guy but very mature.”

That's certainly a great endorsement. McCourty is one of the longest-tenured members of the Patriots defense and is regarded as one of the league's best safeties. If he likes what Stidham is offering, that could be a sign of good things to come.

As for what Hoyer offers, both McCourty twins spoke of the impact that he would have off the field.

"Getting a guy like Hoyer, we're going to be fired up to see him back in that locker room," Jason McCourty said.

"He just has a veteran presence, man," Devin McCourty said. "He’s played on multiple teams, he knows our offense very well. I think he’ll bring experience and his knowledge. If he has to go out there and play, he’s going to compete at a high level, or if it’s coaching up young quarterbacks, he’s going to be a guy that going to be very necessary to have in our locker room."

That experience and leadership could be valuable in a post-Brady locker room. And at the very least, it could give Stidham another sounding board to bounce ideas off as he attempts to become the Patriots' next franchise quarterback.

The McCourty twins also had positive things to say about Cody Kessler, the forgotten third man on the quarterback depth chart. But at the end of the day, who do they want to see play the position for the Patriots? Devin McCourty said it best.

"The most winning quarterback is [who] I wanna see [start]. Whoever's gonna win."

Patriots QB Cam Newton given this jersey number with his new team

Patriots QB Cam Newton given this jersey number with his new team

The New England Patriots made the signing of quarterback Cam Newton official on Wednesday, and while it might be weird for some NFL fans to see the former MVP in a red, white and blue jersey this coming season, there is one part of his gameday look that will remain the same.

Newton will again wear the No. 1 jersey, according to the team's official roster page. This is the same number he wore during the first nine seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers. 

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You might be surprised to learn that Newton will be just the fourth player in Patriots history to wear the No. 1 jersey and the first to do it since 1987, per Pro Football Reference's data. The other three players to wear No. 1 for the Patriots are former kickers Tony Franklin, Eric Schubert and John Smith. And, of course, the Pat Patriot mascot also wears No. 1.

Whether Newton ends up being the Patriots' No. 1 quarterback for Week 1 of the 2020 regular season remains to be seen. He's the favorite to win the starting job following Tom Brady's departure in March, but 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer also are on the depth chart and should provide competition for Newton. 

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Next Pats Podcast: How can Patriots utilize N'Keal Harry more in 2020?

Next Pats Podcast: How can Patriots utilize N'Keal Harry more in 2020?

N'Keal Harry had his rookie season derailed by injuries, but that has done little to lessen expectations ahead of his second NFL campaign.

The New England Patriots wide receiver has obvious talent. The team selected him in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2018 draft after a successful college career at Arizona State, and when Harry did get onto the field with the Patriots, he showed flashes of his impressive skills.

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One of the challenges for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels this coming season is finding ways to get Harry more involved in the offense and maximizing his abilities. 

How can the Patriots accomplish that goal? Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo joined the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast to break down his expectations for Harry and ways the Patriots can use him.

"I think he'll get better as the years go on. I think what has to happen is people need to change their expectations sometimes for receivers, especially first-round wide receivers," Palazzolo told our Patriots insider Phil Perry. "We're talking about a position where there's three starters, and not every receiver is going to be Julio Jones, and not every starter is going to be as good as Julian Edelman -- a guy you can depend on to get open in crunch time and third down.

"When we evaluated Harry coming out (of college), his skill set reminded us a lot of Demaryius Thomas, who, when you look at his best work, he was catching the ball and running well after the catch, as well as making contested catches. Harry did struggle separating, which is kind of an important point for receivers. He struggled getting open. I think if the expectations are, right or wrong, here's a guy we can scheme some stuff up for -- that back-shoulder touchdown he had from Tom Brady, that's the type of stuff, the vertical route tree, contested catches, using his big body. That's the type of stuff you can expect from him, but you probably don't want to feed him 150 targets and say go be the No. 1 wide receiver. I think Harry is more of a complimentary piece."

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's talent? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

One way to put pressure on defenses and use Harry's strength and athleticism is giving him the ball on running plays. We've seen plenty of wideouts run gadget plays to take advantage of mismatches, and Harry could be used in a similar role for New England.

"If the Patriots do get creative with N'Keal Harry to get the ball in his hands, you could hand it off to him, you could put him out there, he'll have a cornerback matched up with him. And then the defense will have to figure out its run fits -- how do I get enough guys in the box to stop this guy?" Palazzolo said. "So whether it's the jet sweep game, whether it's just legitimately putting him in the backfield as a running back, I think there is a world where N'Keal Harry could be maximized and give you that advantage over defenses."

For the entire Harry conversation between Perry and Palazzolo, check out the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below: