Patriots

Gaudy numbers don't tell entire story on night full of teaching moments for Jarrett Stidham

Gaudy numbers don't tell entire story on night full of teaching moments for Jarrett Stidham

Jarrett Stidham was willing to admit that the football gods were smiling on him Saturday night in Nashville. The rookie quarterback had three passes nearly picked off in his second preseason game as a pro. Possession remained with the Patriots on all three.

"Yeah, I got pretty lucky there a couple times," Stidham acknowledged, "but I trust my guys to go make those plays and sure enough they did. You can't put the ball in too much danger, so I gotta work on that. But overall I thought we did a good job."

Not a terrible assessment. 

Stidham finished with a gaudy preseason stat line against the Titans: He completed 14-of-19 passes for 193 yards (a 10.2 yards-per-attempt number) and a touchdown. No picks for the second straight week meant Stidham also earned himself a robust quarterback rating of 123.4. 

Through two preseason games, Stidham is now 28-for-43 (65.1 percent), for 372 yards (8.7 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns. He hasn't had a pass intercepted, and four of his incompletions have been the result of drops. 

Five of Stidham's throws have been throwaways, and one was altered when he was hit as he threw, according to Pro Football Focus. If you factor in those attempts, Stidham's "aimed" passes would make him 32-for-37 and give him a 125.1 quarterback rating. 

But the numbers don't tell the whole story on Stidham's second game as a pro. 

His first snap resulted in a safety in the Patriots end zone, which probably can't be put on him. But the entire first half was essentially a wash for Stidham, who didn't come in until there were less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter.

To start the third quarter, Stidham looked good. He hit Jakobi Meyers (a "heckuva player," Stidham said later) for a 14-yard gain on third-and-seven. Then he hit Eric Saubert and Lance Kendricks on back-to-back snaps for a combined 38 yards. The passing offense stalled, though, in the red zone. That's where the first of his three near-picks came, when he went to Saubert by the pylon and watched the football glance off a defender's hands. 

Two throws and almost seven minutes later, Stidham was nearly picked again. He was hit on a first-down attempt, and perhaps that shook him up, but his next play looked like an odd decision. He fired high to Nick Brossette in the left flat but telegraphed the throw to such a degree that it went through the hands of the defender rushing in to make a play.

Early in the fourth quarter, Stidham dodged another bullet. He was blasted by linebacker LaTroy Lewis and tried to send the football out of bounds as he worked to avoid the hit. He just narrowly got it there, as the defensive back closest in coverage caught the ball . . . but landed out of bounds. 

There were also moments of hesitation from Stidham that we've seen off and on throughout camp. He was late to throw to Saubert at the goal-line on that near-pick interception. He also got a little jumpy it seemed at times, looking to scramble when he didn't necessarily need to, as he did on the throw after the near-pick intended Saubert. Stidham rolled right without much pressure and threw incomplete to Meyers, but there was a defensive holding call. 

Highlighting those moments is not to say Stidham had a bad game. Many of the same things we said of Stidham last week in Detroit still applied after Patriots-Titans.

* Stidham is clearly very accurate down the field and on the move; his back-shoulder touchdown throw to Damoun Patterson to take a 22-17 lead was perfectly-placed and timed. 

* Stidham still knows how to pick up yardage with his legs; he found 11 on a third-and-10, and churned out eight more on a third-and-six. 

* Stidham is also still operating out of the huddle and under center much more fluidly than anticipated, given that he came from college offenses that were heavy on spread concepts.

Stidham had one drive that was particularly impressive, when he hit five different receivers to help the Patriots cover 99 yards before Patterson's score. And yet, despite the consistent accuracy, seeing Stidham balk at times with the timing of certain plays is a reminder that he's like so many young quarterbacks trying to figure things out. 

It's early for an anointment. It's so early, and there's so much for Stidham to learn from a night like Saturday's, that kind of performance could be viewed as a well-balanced quarterbacking meal for a rookie in preseason: Confidence from the good stuff, lessons from the bad. 

Stidham will be the first to tell you he's still learning.

"The more that I'm around these guys, the more that I'm in the meeting room with Josh [McDaniels] and Mick [Lombardi] and Tom [Brady] and Brian [Hoyer], just learning as much as I can. We have a bunch of really good players on this team so that makes my job a lot easier just getting the ball to those guys."

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Patriots release statement in response to Bengals' videotaping allegations

Patriots release statement in response to Bengals' videotaping allegations

The New England Patriots have released an official statement in response to the Cincinnati Bengals' allegations of videotaping their sideline.

The statement explains that a three-person video crew was sent to Cleveland for the Bengals-Browns game to film a feature on the Pats scouting department for Patriots.com's "Do Your Job" series.

The Patriots acknowledge that their failure to inform the Bengals of the taping was an "unintended oversight" and admit the video crew unknowingly broke league rules by filming the field from the press box. They also echoed head coach Bill Belichick's statement that the team is independent of the production crew.

Curran: Separating fact from fiction of NFL investigation into Patriots

Read the full statement below:

The NFL currently is investigating the matter, but this appears to be a giant misunderstanding based on what Belichick and the Patriots organization had to say.

The Patriots (10-3) will visit the Bengals (1-12) for their Week 15 matchup on Sunday.

Curran: Pats' resilience has to be their go-to going forward>>>

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Tom Brady addresses boos from Patriots fans: 'They have every right'

Tom Brady addresses boos from Patriots fans: 'They have every right'

It had been quite a while since the Gillette Stadium crowd booed their beloved New England Patriots. After all, the Pats rode a 21-game home win streak into Sunday's game vs. the Kansas CIty Chiefs.

But the boos were loud and clear at the end of the first half with the offensive sputtering and the Patriots trailing 20-7. In his Monday appearance on Westwood One with Jim Gray, quarterback Tom Brady shared his thoughts on the harsh reaction from the fans in Foxboro.

"Well that's part of being in sports is everybody's got a chance to cheer you or boo you," Brady told Gray. "There's been plenty of times where they've been cheering us and again, you take the good with the bad. They have every right to boo when we're not playing the way that we're capable.

"For me, I'm focused on what I've got to do to go in there and do a better job. We've been through it before, it won't be the last time and that's OK it doesn't hurt our feelings."

Does Brady hear the boos?

"Yeah, you have 70,000 people out there. It's pretty loud," Brady said with a laugh. "But, you know, that's what fans do."

If anyone understands the lofty expectations that come with playing in New England, it's No. 12.

The Patriots will visit the Cincinnati Bengals for their Week 15 matchup, so fortunately they won't have to worry about the boo birds from their own fans on Sunday. If they return home after falling to a 1-12 team, however, that'll be a different story.

Belichick responds to Bengals' videotaping allegations>>>

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