Matt Light

Matt Light has advice for Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham on taking over for Tom Brady

Matt Light has advice for Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham on taking over for Tom Brady

Tom Brady was 24 years old in 2001 when Mo Lewis' devastating hit on Drew Bledsoe altered the course of Patriots franchise history, thrusting Brady into a starting role.

When the 2020 season (hopefully) starts later this year, Jarrett Stidham will also be 24 years old. And Brady's departure has opened the door for Stidham to take over as New England's starting QB. 

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So what does Stidham need to do to seize the reins and become a leader? A man who had a front row seat for Brady's emergence from a sixth-round pick to the GOAT has some ideas.

"I witnessed it happen with Tommy in a very difficult time. It's not as if he had the snaps in practice leading up to that Week 3 where he was going to take over the reins from a very veteran quarterback in Drew Bledsoe," three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light said on "Good Morning Football" on Friday. "Stidham is going to prove it right now. Unfortunately right now means they're not able to get together, but when they finally do get together, it's going to happen in practice first.

It's not going to happen in that first game — although you're going to find out what he's made of in that first game when the bullets are flying for real and the guys are amped up and it's all on the line. But he needs to prove it in how he conducts the practices and how he gets guys on the same page in the meeting room and in the film room, the classroom. 

As Light alluded to, the fact that Stidham hasn't been able to practice with teammates at OTAs and minicamps thus far this offseason will be a big challenge for the second-year pro, who only threw four regular-season passes during his rookie campaign.

"It's going to be really hard for a guy like him and any young guy coming into the National Football League right now that they're not able to be around their teammates and they're not able to be around in the minicamps, the passing camps and do all those things that pay huge dividends down the road."

After only adding Brian Hoyer this offseason, it's clear the Patriots have confidence in Stidham. Now it's up to him to deliver on that promise. 

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Why are Patriots keeping quiet about Jarrett Stidham? Matt Light explains

Why are Patriots keeping quiet about Jarrett Stidham? Matt Light explains

Jarrett Stidham supposedly is the New England Patriots' quarterback of the future. So, why isn't he being treated like it?

The Patriots avoided taking a QB in the 2020 NFL Draft and have resisted signing proven veteran free agents like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton in free agency, a sign they're confident in Stidham and Brian Hoyer as their QB duo in 2020.

Aside from the occasional praise, however, New England has avoided pumping Stidham's tires. In fact, head coach Bill Belichick hasn't even named Stidham the starting QB and made a point after the draft that the Patriots have "a lot of confidence" in Hoyer, his supposed backup.

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Meanwhile, he's what Belichick had to say about Stidham:

"He improved a lot. We'll see where that takes him."

Why are the Patriots playing their Stidham cards close the vest? Are they still considering signing Newton or another free-agent arm? During an interview Thursday on The Pat McAfee Show, ex-Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light said the reason is simple.

"You’re not hearing anything because there’s nothing to be said," Light said. "And that is 11 years of being in the system, but in a lot of ways it is 100 percent factual, right?

"Bill wasn’t lying. He doesn’t know which one of his guys is going to be the guy yet. I think they have a lot of confidence in Jarrett Stidham, I think they have liked what they’ve seen.

" ... Can he deliver? I mean there’s a lot of things that need to come together before you can answer that question. Is he capable? Sure. Would Bill say that? Never. There’s just no upside to saying it, so he’s not going to do it."

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Light's point is well-taken: The Patriots may believe Stidham can lead them in the post-Tom Brady era, but he's still a 23-year-old QB who has attempted four regular-season passes (one of which was intercepted).

So, there's no benefit to Belichick naming Stidham his starting quarterback in the spring only to watch the Auburn product struggle in the summer and fall and invite a QB controversy before the season even begins.

Just because New England isn't launching a Stidham 2020 hype tour doesn't mean Belichick is second-guessing himself, though.

"You’re just going to feel as if there is a lot of uncertainty where there probably is a lot more comfort than you’ll ever realize," Light said.

Translation: Expect the Patriots to keep Stidham relatively under wraps until he proves himself on the field.

Ex-Patriot Matt Light shares epic tales about pranking Bill Belichick

Ex-Patriot Matt Light shares epic tales about pranking Bill Belichick

There are common pranksters, and then there's Matt Light.

The former Patriots offensive tackle was notorious for pulling elaborate pranks during his 11 seasons in New England from 2001 to 2011, and no one was off-limits.

Case in point: Light had the audacity to prank the Grinch himself, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

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Light recently joined ex-Patriots teammate Willie McGinest on NFL Network to share not one but two stories of him pulling one over on Belichick and living to tell the tale.

Light's first gag was replacing Belichick's computer mouse with a "shocking mouse" that would zap the Patriots head coach when he touched it. Here's a shocker: Belichick didn't like that.

"That did not go well," Light recalled. "He lost all of the information on his computer, he was angry at me for about a month, I had to run a little extra in practice. But we made it through it."

Belichick's assistant, Berj Najarian, even told Light that he "went a little too far" with the mouse prank.

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And yet the Patriots' chief prankster went back for more. Light also detailed the time he gave Belichick an exploding pen as a gag and tried to play it off like someone set him up.

"I remember taking a ball up, and I handed him the ball and said, 'One of the vets asked me to get this ball signed, coach.' And he looks at the pen funny and he hits it and it surprised the heck out of him," Light said. "And I turned around like, 'Oh come on guys!' like they set me up."

To be honest, we're surprised Light lasted 11 seasons in New England after stunts like that. (The offensive lineman also once tricked Brandon Meriweather into giving Belichick his bar tab; check that story out in the video player above.)

Then again, Belichick isn't exactly the curmudgeonly coach he comes off as to the media. In fact, McGinest noted that Belichick was all smiles as he made Light run extra sprints (even if it was a vengeful smile).

Light eventually made it to the Patriots Hall of Fame, too, so it appears he emerged from these bold pranks unscathed.