With Tom Brady down in Tampa Bay, the New England Patriots quarterback job is up for grabs for the first time in a long, long time. Second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Brady’s backup in 2019, appears to be the favorite to start Week 1, but not everyone shares that opinion.
One of the other quarterbacks on the roster is more familiar to Bill Belichick and his system. Brian Hoyer enters his third stint with the franchise. He backed up Brady from 2009-11 and 2017-18.
Obviously, the 34-year old Hoyer has value in the quarterback room with a young quarterback set to take over, whether or not he starts. Not everyone is discounting his chances of winning the job though. Rob Ninkovich, who became teammates with Hoyer in New England in 2009, thinks he’ll be under center when all is said and done.
“I think Brian Hoyer will be the starter Week 1 and I say that because the quarterback position is one of the most important for reps under center, seeing defensive looks, looking at coverage, understanding the offense,” Ninkovich said on Friday’s edition of Get Up on ESPN. He thinks the current lag in preparation and practice for the season will have an impact. “Look, they’re not practicing right now. There’s no minicamp, there’s no offseason, there’s no training camp. We don’t know when that’s going to happen.”
“If you have a veteran quarterback who has been in the system, understands what to expect what an NFL season is like, you’re gonna want to go with a guy who has the veteran leadership,” Ninkovich continued. “When you’re a second-year player, you really don’t realize what a season’s like as a starter. You don’t understand what it’s going to take, and not having an offseason does not help. So, Brian Hoyer will be the starter Week 1.”
Hoyer is a journeyman, but has significantly more experience than Stidham, with 67 NFL appearances and 38 starts under his belt.
Stidham played in three games last season as a rookie, completing 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards, and an interception. He was a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2019.
Plenty have speculated that Bill Belichick is using this season to see what he has in Stidham, but could be prepared to make a huge splash in the 2021 NFL Draft, where quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields will be available. Others think he’s legitimately bullish on the former Auburn star. We’ll find out a lot this year, whether Stidham plays or Hoyer beats him out to be the Patriots starter in 2020.