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QB Recall: Resetting Mac Jones & Patriots Depth Chart After Jarrett Stidham Trade

The New England Patriots quarterbacks will be one of the most intriguing positional groupings to watch in 2022.

While games may be won in the trenches and defense wins championships, all eyes are still on the quarterback when it comes to professional football.

For better or for worse, a team’s success is largely attributed to the player taking snaps under center.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick and QB Mac Jones
Patriots QB Mac Jones

While the New England Patriots quarterback position will largely be defined by one number [12], the Pats have plodded forward to forge a new identity at the position. Heading into his second season, quarterback Mac Jones looks to continue the tradition of revered quarterbacks who have proudly worn a Patriots uniform. In 2022, it is expected that he will be joined by veteran Brian Hoyer, rookie Bailey Zappe and undrafted free agent D’Eriq King.

Conspicuous by his absence from that list is now former Patriot Jarrett Stidham, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, along with a swap of late-round draft picks by the teams.

In the wake of Stidham’s trade to Las Vegas, the Patriots new-look quarterback positional grouping will look a bit different heading into 2022.

Mac Jones

Following the Patriots’ decision to release Cam Newton at the conclusion of training camp, Jones performed well at the team’s helm in his rookie season. He led all rookies with a 67.6 completion percentage and a 92.5 passer rating, while compiling 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns. He completed at least 70 percent of his attempts in nine of New England’s games and twice threw for 300-plus yards through the air. Jones was the centerpiece of a rookie class, which was chosen as the best in the NFL this past year by Pro Football Focus. In addition to his selection to the Pro Bowl, he also earned a spot on the PFWA's All-Rookie team along with teammate Christian Barmore.

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However, Jones clearly had his struggles down the stretch. He was less accurate, made more rookie mistakes and had difficulty when defenses were able to adjust to take away his preferred routes and targets. While it is evident that Jones will need to improve in this area, the Patriots quarterback will continue to regularly maintain his poise, his focus, and his drive to constantly improve. Those qualities will continue to make him the ideal steward of New England’s timing-based passing game, predicated on vertical routes and completions from quick, accurate throws. His performance in 2021 provided palpable hope of a bright future for New England at the quarterback position.

Brian Hoyer

Hoyer served as the Patriots’ primary backup in 2021, serving as a mentor to starter Mac Jones. Hoyer saw the majority action in late-game scenarios, Hoyer played in five games, completing nine of eleven passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. His primary contribution to the team was his role as a mentor for the Patriots’ young starting quarterback.Though his best days on the field may be behind him, his tutelage of Jones gives him value in New England; especially in light of the team’s numerous offensive coaching changes.Hoyer has been outstanding when running the scout team. His experience and knowledge within the Patriots offensive system could prove to be invaluable during training camp. Should the Patriots choose to enter the 2022 season without rostering Hoyer, it is possible that he may remain with the team in a coaching or advisory role. However, no indication had been given that the 36-year-old was ready or willing to hang up his cleats just yet.

Hoyer’s re-signing with the team should not be dismissed as mere roster filling. With the departure of both former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree to Las Vegas, Hoyer’s tutelage will be crucial for the continued development of Mac Jones.

Patriots QB Brian Hoyer
Patriots - Bailey Zappe Throwing
Patriots - D'Eriq King

Bailey Zappe

New England raised more than a few eyebrows when they selected Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe with the 137th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Given the fact that the team will almost certainly not carry four quarterbacks on their roster for the upcoming season, many began to wonder whether the Patriots had squandered valuable draft capital by overindulging in a position of strength.

Zappe had an overwhelmingly successful statistical season at Western Kentucky in 2021. He set FBS single-season records with 62 passing touchdowns and 5,967 passing yards. The 23-year-old is also a strong logistical fit within New England’s style. Much like Jones, Zappe has a quick release and is an accurate short-to-intermediate passer when throwing in rhythm. He moves well within the pocket and demonstrates a good eye for recognizing pressure. In order to be an effective pro, he must improve upon his accuracy when throwing on the move. While he does not project as a particular mobile quarterback, his skill set fits well within New England’s system.

D’Eriq King

King is a versatile offensive weapon with an intriguing skillset. Though he is capable of aligning in the backfield or taking snaps under center, King best projects as a wide receiver at the pro level. Throughout his six-year career [at both Miami, as well as Houston], he caught 61 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots were impressed by his diverse skill set having hosted him for a workout at Gillette Stadium in early April; apparently catching the eye of Pats’ offensive coach Joe Judge. As a passer, King finished his collegiate tenure having completed 661 passes for 8378 yards, 76 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also ran for 2055 yards on 423 attempts with 32 rushing touchdowns.