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 fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Did the 2001 New England Patriots believe they were launching a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XXXVI? Probably not.

But the defending Super Bowl champions appear a bit more confident.

Days after signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the richest contract in North American sports, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract extension with defensive tackle Chris Jones, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

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So, how did Jones celebrate his new deal with Kansas City? By declaring an apparent continuation of the Chiefs' "dynasty."

Jones has every reason to be confident in his team, which kept its core intact after winning Super Bowl LIV and is the current Super Bowl LV favorite.

But Patriots fans who watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead New England to six championships over two decades might view Jones' "dynasty" talk as premature.

After all, no team has won back-to-back titles since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and no team aside from New England and Seattle (2013 and 2014) has even reached the Super Bowl in back-to-back years since 2000.

And after signing Cam Newton, the Patriots may believe their own dynasty isn't dead yet despite Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

History won't stop Jones and the Chiefs from setting lofty goals, however, as Mahomes said recently he's eyeing Brady's record of six Super Bowl titles. Better get started soon.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

If you rooted for Tom Brady and don’t root for Cam Newton, you are a hypocrite. 

In 2014, the Patriots started the season 2-2 and after a humiliating loss on Monday Night Football in Kansas City, some idiot — that would be me — declared that the Pats had lost their soul.

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Of course, I was wrong, as the greatest quarterback ever went on to the lead the Pats to their fourth Super Bowl win with a big assist from Malcolm Butler. 

That was Part 2 of the "Tom Brady: Me Against the World" trilogy.

Of course, the original was getting drafted as a sixth-round pick out of Michigan. Part 3 was Deflategate when Brady won his fifth Super Bowl after he was suspended for four games.

For the purpose of this writing, we focus on Part 2 because some thought Brady’s best days were behind him. (Many feel the same about Cam Newton now.) Even Bill Belichick said Tom was getting older and the plans for his successor in Jimmy Garoppolo were laid out before us ... and Brady.  

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

But once again, Brady defied the odds and forced Belichick to trade Jimmy G. to San Francisco. Needing to prove he still had "it," Brady reinvented himself and became a physical specimen, defying Father Time.

Can Cam Newton do the same? He is not as old now as Brady was then, but this guy was left for dead by the rest of the NFL and has even more to prove than Brady ever did.

If you backed Tom Brady, how can you not do the same for Cam?

Look, I love Tom Brady the football player. Off the field, I think he’s lost his mind, but there has been no better player in the history of sports than TB12. (See Tom, I used your logo. Happy?)

However, right now I am in Cam’s corner like I was in Brady’s when he was a Patriot. And you should be too.