In Brian Hoyer's third career stint in New England, he finally made his first start as a Patriot Monday night in Kansas City -- but could it also have been his last?
With Cam Newton still sidelined and stuck on the reserve-COVID list and his status for the team's Week 5 contest against the Broncos in limbo, the Patriots could turn to Jarrett Stidham instead of the veteran, who had several crucial mental mistakes in the Patriots' 26-10 loss to the Chiefs.
That was one of the main topics covered by Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry on the most recent episode of NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Talk Podcast -- and both agree that it's time for Bill Belichick to hand the reins to the second-year pro if Newton is unable to suit up Sunday against the Broncos.
"I'm not positive whether Jarrett Stidham played so well that he wins the backup job or Brian Hoyer played so badly, he lost it forever. But there's certainly a changing of the guard behind Cam Newton, and it's going to have to be Stidham going forward," Curran said. "And my contention is this: Bill Belichick, in over-coddling, I think, or over-promoting the veteran and experience angle with Brian Hoyer, may have cost the Patriots this game."
In his seven drives, Hoyer only led the Patriots to one field goal, wasting two red zone chances by taking a sack with time running out in the first half and then losing the ball on a strip sack early in the second half. The veteran QB also threw an interception when a throw sailed over Ryan Izzo.
Overall, not a good look for Hoyer, who had been taking the majority of the reps as Newton's backup since training camp.
"What did Brian Hoyer show them in practice that demanded that he be the number two guy? Because, Tom, you were out there at training camp, I was out there at training camp. There was a low bar to clear to be the top guy in training camp when you're talking about Patriots quarterbacks," said Perry. "Brian Hoyer was not very good this summer. What he was great at was getting to the line of scrimmage and being definitive in his calls at the line of scrimmage and making checks and calling audibles and using these one-word play calls and having command -- and all that is awesome. On the practice field.
"But you get to a game, and it feels like even if you're getting them into the right play, even if you're making all the right checks, if you can't make the throw when the throw is there, or if you don't know how to react when pressure gets near you because pressure does not get near you all throughout training camp because you have that nice red jersey on, what is your value to the roster?"
If the Patriots thought the 12-year vet would be the safer choice when compared to Stidham, who had only thrown four regular-season passes before Monday night, the mental and physical mistakes undercut that theory, even though the decision to start Hoyer made some sense entering the game.
"He's been preparing as the backup all week," Curran commented. "He's been the guy. He's ready to go. You can't make the Speaker of the House the President if the Vice President is still sitting there."
"And he's a caretaker, right? He won't make the same mistakes that Jarrett Stidham maybe will -- I think that's how we both felt," Perry added. "He's the veteran. Jarrett Stidham's in his second year. He didn't have a preseason for Year 2. Brian Hoyer should be able to help you get by, help you keep it close. And he just did the exact opposite."
Hoyer's performance -- or lack thereof -- could cement a change on the Patriots' quarterback depth chart. Though the actual decision remains with Bill Belichick, both Curran and Perry have seen enough from Hoyer, even though Stidham only went 5-for-13 for 60 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions after coming on in relief.
"If not for COVID, does (Brian Hoyer) still have a job this week? There's still some uncertainty as to whether or not Cam Newton is actually going to be available in Week 5," Perry said. "So you gotta keep Stidham, you need a number two. If and when (Hoyer) becomes the number three guy, I guess you keep him around again because it's just a weird time, but to me, he has slid closer to the end of NFL coach in terms of his understanding of an offense versus actual NFL quarterback."