In the infamous words of former Boston Celtics head coach Rick Pitino, Tom Brady is not walking through that door.
Brady took his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL free agency last month, leaving 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer at quarterback on the Patriots roster.
Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis
Oddsmakers aren't particularly high on the Patriots' chances of competing with Stidham, who's the likely Week 1 starter. Caesars Sportsbook in Las Vegas released their 2020 season win total props Thursday and the Patriots are at 8.5, which is their lowest over/under win total number since 2003. These oddsmakers also have the Buffalo Bills as the favorites to win the AFC East next season. The Pats have won the division 11 consecutive years.
One person who does have confidence in Stidham's abilities is former Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson, who was teammates with the former Auburn quarterback in New England last year. Watson went on FOX Sports 1 morning show "First Things First" on Tuesday and gave Patriots fans plenty of reasons to be confident in Stidham.
“I've seen a lot of guys who come in with a lot of hype who didn't pan out. I've seen guys who came in under the radar and turned into superstars," Watson said. "Stidham has all that there needs to be for somebody who’s going to be successful. He’s a student of the game. You hear that a lot, but what that really means is that when we’re in the meeting rooms, he’s paying attention.
"When they’re in the quarterback room, he’s paying attention. When he’s on the field, he’s taking instruction from the coaches. He’s able to disseminate information to the guys in the huddle. He’s able to encourage them and kind of go through the minor details about route running, about reading coverages, all those things. He’s eager to learn, and he has a certain humility about him, with confidence. He had a chance to learn under arguably the greatest quarterback to play the game. He soaked that in for a year. Patriots fans should be confident that he wouldn’t be in that room if coach (Bill) Belichick didn’t think he could help the team.”
Watson makes a great point about Stidham learning from the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He's also learning from the best coach in pro football history, which is really valuable for a young player. So many talented quarterbacks are drafted to teams who don't have the coaching excellence and professional environment that is found in New England. Watson's descripton of Stidham's leadership and how he acts in the huddle is no doubt encouraging for fans, too.
There are reasons to believe Stidham will succeed as a starting quarterback, and Watson laid out several of them. Now it's just time for Stidham to go out and prove it.