Patriots

Jarrett Stidham on 2018 season: If given do-over, we'd 'open it up' more

Jarrett Stidham on 2018 season: If given do-over, we'd 'open it up' more

FOXBORO -- Same offense. Same head coach. Same number of attempts. Yet Jarrett Stidham's performance from 2017 to 2018 was strikingly different. His completion percentage dropped from 66.5 to 60.7. His yards per attempt fell from 8.5 to 7.6. His rating dropped 15 points. 

That statistical drop, accompanied by some head-scratchingly inconsistent play, was part of the reason that Stidham was taken in the fourth round and not one of the first two. But the newest member of the Patriots quarterback room had a relatively quick-and-easy explantation for his performance last season. 

Part of it was a change in personnel. Part of it was a reluctance to cut the passing game loose.

"I think there’s different things that happen throughout the season, and I think myself, Coach [Gus] Malzahn, Coach [Chip] Lindsey, if we were all to kind of look back and go back and read through the season, I think we’d just open it up a lot more," Stidham said. "When you lose a guy like Kerryon Johnson and Braden Smith up front, some of those guys that have a lot of experience, you just have to find out your identity. And I think we found our identity during our bowl game against Purdue." 

Stidham led the Tigers as they put up 56 first-half points in the Music City Bowl. He hit a running back out of the backfield on a little wheel route that went for a 66-yard score. He hit a big play down the middle of the field for a 74-yard touchdown that traveled 58 yards in the air. He also dropped a 34-yard touchdown into the hands of burner Darius Slayton. 

That game was an outlier, though. Stidham acknowledged to the Patriots during his pre-draft top-30 visit with the team that he didn't help himself with his decision-making in the pocket at times.

"I told coach [Josh] McDaniels and coach [Bill] Belichick, there were definitely times last year where for whatever reason, I just decided to get out of the pocket when I shouldn’t have or just didn’t trust my eyes at a certain point or my feet," he said. "That’s something I’ve obviously been working on this spring up to the draft and it’s something I’m going to have to continue to work at in order to get better at the quarterback position. I’m really looking forward to doing that, and there’s no one better to learn from than coach McDaniels and coach Belichick and those guys in the quarterback room."

Between the changing personnel, the stubbornness with the scheme, and any residual effect those things had on Stidham's pocket presence, he became a Day 3 pick. Stidham's loss in terms of draft slot may be New England's gain, however, as a dice-roll at that position at that point in the draft is well worth it -- regardless of the age of the team's incumbent starting quarterback.

"It’s one of those things, but I wouldn’t trade my time at Auburn for anything," Stidham said. "I loved it there, and the great thing about Auburn is that it can really help prepare you for the next level. And sure enough, I’m lucky enough to sit here and be a Patriot and further my career a little bit."

For more on Stidham -- and how his performance during the pre-draft process may have helped him in the eyes of Patriots decision-makers -- click here.

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Report: 2020 NFL Draft will be conducted from homes, not team facilities

Report: 2020 NFL Draft will be conducted from homes, not team facilities

While the tradition of the NFL draft in late April apparently will not be stopped by the coronavirus, the traditional draft "war room" might be.

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NFL teams are preparing to conduct the April 23-25 draft with personnel at their homes and not at their team facilities, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.  

Schefter and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski also reported that President Trump had a conference call on Saturday with the commissioners of each of the major league sports and Trump said he believes the NFL season should start on time. The regular season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10, a Thursday night, when the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host an opponent to be determined. 

Trump, who last week expressed the hope that mass gatherings could return by Easter Sunday before backtracking on the advice of medical experts and scientists and extending restrictions until April 30, also said he hopes to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered team facilities closed more than a week ago.

Earlier, when the NFL announced that the draft would go on as scheduled, it was thought that the teams would work from their facilities - with only 10 people in a room, each six feet apart - to make the picks and contact players chosen via video conferencing. 

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It appears from Schefter's report that the video conferencing will be going on not only with picks but among individual team's general managers, scouts and coaches as they shelter in place like the rest of us while the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the world. 

It creates an unprecedented draft, likely devoid of a lot of the glitzy production values that the original idea of the draft in Las Vegas would've had, but still a far cry from when the teams' decision-makers met in a smoky New York hotel ballroom on a Tuesday in late April to do the picking. 

 

New York Post salutes Robert Kraft with 'Thank You, Pats' front page

New York Post salutes Robert Kraft with 'Thank You, Pats' front page

That whole Boston-New York rivalry thing gets put aside when it comes to public health and the crisis we all find ourselves in these days.

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There's no better example of that than the front page of the New York Post on Saturday morning:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent the team plane to China to purchase and bring back 1.7 million N95 protective masks needed to help combat the deadly coronavirus that has hit New York City particularly hard. The Kraft family donated 300,000 masks to New York-area hospitals and they arrived on Friday in a tractor-trailer emblazoned with the Patriots logo. 

In a city that, as Post columnist Mark Cannizzaro put it, has "been trained to disdain" everything about the Patriots and Boston teams, it should be a gesture that forever puts Kraft in the New York family: 

Today, however, everyone associated with New York — Jets fans or otherwise — should salute the 78-year-old Kraft, who delivered a deed so special in this frightening and uncertain time of the coronavirus crisis that it should never be forgotten.

Even Jets superfan "Fireman Ed" Anzalone told the Post he has to put the rivalry aside.

“I don’t like his team. They’ve been beating us up for quite some time. But Kraft is just a wonderful guy, so I’m not surprised by his actions.”