What's hard for many New England Patriots fans to wrap their heads around his why the Patriots have so much confidence in second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham has played in four preseason games and taken 15 total snaps during the regular season, so how can New England know what they have in the former fourth-round pick despite him not earning meaningful snaps against a first-team NFL defense? Well, Bill Belichick had an a certain evaluation process for the Auburn product during his rookie season, which The Athletic's Michael Lombardi detailed for all of us:
The day the Patriots welcomed Stidham into their organization, they began their evaluation. This evaluation was broad, covering on- and off-the-field behaviors. They knew he was not going to impact the 2019 team, so they tailored his development program accordingly. Even though he was listed as the backup quarterback on the roster, the Patriots treated him as the third-string quarterback in terms of making sure he was getting extra reps after every single practice. With then-starter Tom Brady taking the majority of reps in preparation for their opponent, Stidham was preparing in a slightly different manner. Yes, he was fully engaged in the game plan, but after every practice, he, along with other players, would have their own practice, thus allowing him to gain valuable reps in the offense and allowing the Patriots coaches to gain valuable insight into his talents. When the season ended, the Patriots had over 20 weeks of useful data to review, evaluate, and compare to the potential draft picks in the upcoming class.
Even though Stidham wasn't earning a large amount of in-game snaps, which would help any team best evaluate what they have in a football player, New England had their own way of evaluating what their backup QB was capable of doing in the Patriots' system, which involved meaningful practice reps.
Many times a backup quarterback will end up taking scout team reps during practice, which doesn't help the QB get a grasp of how their team's offense runs in real time. That's why New England went out and signed Cody Kessler last season, because Kessler took the scout team reps, which allowed Stidham to work more with the Patriots' offensive scheme.
The Patriots did their due diligence at evaluating what they had in Stidham without him being the starting quarterback. That's why Patriots fans shouldn't wonder why New England didn't sign a veteran quarterback during free agency and why they didn't draft a quarterback. New England's coaching staff has a lot of confidence in Jarrett Stidham, and it's because they've been been doing their homework for the past year.