Patriots

Patriots fans should be encouraged by these scouts' takes on Jarrett Stidham

Patriots fans should be encouraged by these scouts' takes on Jarrett Stidham

Critics of the Patriots have been claiming for years that the team's dynasty is about to end, and Tom Brady's recent decision to leave the franchise after winning six Super Bowl titles in 20 years has only intensified the talk of New England's impending fall.

Losing a player of Brady's caliber certainly will impact the Patriots on and off the field, but there are reasons to believe they will again fight for the AFC East title in 2020. One of those reasons is second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who the Patriots selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Stidham won the backup job last summer, and even though he didn't get many regular season reps, he showed flashes of his impressive potential throughout training camp, the preseason and various in-season practices.

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He also benefitted from spending his rookie year learning from a legendary quarterback and the best head coach of all-time in Bill Belichick. He should at least be well-prepared for the monumental challenge of replacing Brady. Whether he will succeed remains to be seen.

Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report recently talked to some scouts (and other people in the football world) and received some interesting takes on Stidham, and much of the analysis was positive.

"He's a lot closer to playoff quarterback than another guy who falls on his face replacing a legend," one NFL scout tells B/R.

There was plenty pre-draft talk about how Auburn's offense didn't bring out the best of Stidham's talents, and that because of this scenario, the Patriots found tremendous value in the fourth round. One scout told Hayes he "begged" his team to draft Stidham.

"Knowing Bill, he's excited about taking this big ball of clay and molding it into his image," another scout says. "I've always thought Stidham was way undervalued as a fourth-round pick. I begged our guys to take him. He has so much more ability than he was able to show in college."

The praise Stidham has received from scouts, teammates and others has not slowed the debate over whether the Patriots should bring in another quarterback before next season. Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer are the only quarterbacks on New England's roster after Cody Kessler was released last week.

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Signing a veteran QB in free agency doesn't make much for the Patriots, especially when you consider how little salary cap space they have at their disposal. Let's not forget the Patriots are among the leaders in dead money for 2020, including $13.5 million against the 2020 salary cap from Brady's previous contract. They don't have the luxury of being able to spend large chunks of money on roster upgrades.

Selecting a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft is an interesting idea, but the Patriots have so many other needs on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense, where many key players from last season's unit have left via free agency or trades over the last few weeks. The Patriots have the second-most 2020 draft picks with 12, but only one falls in the top 86. So, unless the Patriots use their first-rounder (23rd overall) on a quarterback, many of the best players at that position likely will be off the board by the time New England is back on the clock in the third round.

Stidham is the best option for the Patriots, and surrounding him with the most talent possible on offense before Week 1 should be among the team's top objectives for the remainder of the offseason.

McCourty twins address Drew Brees' flag comments, whether they forgive Saints QB

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File photo

McCourty twins address Drew Brees' flag comments, whether they forgive Saints QB

Drew Brees has taken plenty of heat lately due to the comments he made about players "disrespecting the American flag" by kneeling during the national anthem.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback was asked during an interview with Yahoo! Finance about players kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. Brees answered, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."

It didn't take long for the veteran QB to get backlash for those insensitive remarks. A number of Brees' NFL peers, including both Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots, scolded him for his comments.

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On Thursday, the McCourty twins delved deeper into the subject on a special edition of their Double Coverage podcast titled "Bridge To Action." Following an enlightening interview with former FBI special agent M. Quentin Williams, which you can watch below, the McCourtys addressed the Brees situation. 

"Everybody's been in an uproar over Drew Brees' comments, and obviously we've responded on Twitter," said Jason McCourty. "Somebody had asked earlier, 'do we forgive him?' and I don't think any of this thing is about forgiveness. It's not about Drew Brees, it's not about Jason or Devin McCourty, it's about realizing, 'Alright, here's an issue and we need to find a solution for that issue.' Like, you don't have an issue with Drew Brees when he makes those statements. You have an issue with that train of thought, and that thought is what we're trying to move away from.

"So as soon as anyone who has that thought is willing to dive in and learn, and open up dialogue to talk about -- because I think sometimes we subconsciously have thoughts that we don't know we have, and then we say some things that we may have to take some time to go back and self-reflect ... Maybe I need to look inwardly and see like, 'Hey, maybe I'm not looking at this thing the right way. And I think when we're able to do that, there's no animosity or hostility toward anyone because that's not what we're trying to do. It's about there's an issue, and we want to fix this issue."

Devin McCourty doubled down on what his brother had to say and mentioned that he doesn't have anything against Brees. Rather, he hopes this will help the 41-year-old and others like him look at the situation from a different perspective.

"It's not about forgiving or hating," said Devin. "Like, I've never hated Drew Brees. I don't even know Drew Brees. So it was never about that. It was just, how can we get people to now not look through those lenses. And he's a guy who if he doesn't look through those lenses, he can get a lot of other people to feel the same way. So hopefully some good turns out from that."

Brees has since issued an apology for his comments, saying they "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy."

Beyond the McCourty twins' comments on Brees, their interview with Williams is well worth the watch. Williams is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Dedication to Community, whose mission is to "empower individuals and communities to achieve their business and societal goals through the spirit of entrepreneurial enterprise and community advocacy. The McCourtys and Williams had a mindful conversation about the recent killings of unarmed black men, the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color, and the next steps to implementing positive change in the United States.

Did Jarrett Stidham confirm he's been working out with Julian Edelman?

Did Jarrett Stidham confirm he's been working out with Julian Edelman?

What do you do after your quarterback and best friend leaves you after 11 seasons together to join another team?

You start training with his replacement.

That's apparently what New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is doing with Jarrett Stidham following Tom Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this spring.

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Stidham, the Patriots' expected starter at QB in 2020, posted an Instagram story Wednesday reacting to Milwaukee Brewers utility man (and former Boston Red Sox fan favorite) Brock Holt, who tagged Edelman and Stidham in his own Instagram story while catching passes from a friend on a baseball field.

Holt wrote, "I'm here if you need me @jarrett_stidham8" in his initial post while jokingly comparing his hands to Edelman's.

Stidham's reply: "We've been at it.. Where you at bro?!"

Is Stidham referring to himself and Edelman as "we" and suggesting they've been working out together (aka "been at it") this offseason, then jokingly inviting Holt to join them?

That appears to be the case, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss, who noted that Stidham and Edelman are both in Massachusetts and have been meeting up regularly.

That's not ground-breaking news -- Brady has been running drills with his Bucs teammates for weeks -- but it's still notable considering Massachusetts has stricter social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic than some other states, which has limited Patriots' players ability to meet in person.

It's also a good sign to see New England's No. 1 receiver getting on-field work with Stidham, who appears locked in as the team's starting QB for 2020.

Brady's departure arguably impacted Edelman more than any other Patriot: The 34-year-old caught 100 passes from Brady in 2019 for a career-high 1,117 receiving yards and was the QB's clear favorite target.

But Edelman apparently isn't sulking over Brady's absence as he puts in work with New England's new QB1.