Less than a year ago, it seemed like most people around the Patriots organization trusted Jarrett Stidham to be Tom Brady's heir apparent.
Former Patriots tight end Ben Watson and former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Stidham could be the answer for New England. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported the team seemed content to test out Stidham and focus on putting him in a position to succeed back in May.
That didn't happen in 2020, however, and the reasons why are starting to come to light.
After a full season in which Stidham did not start a single game, Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard offered an explanation for why the former fourth-round pick didn't get the chance many expected him to on Wednesday's episode of "The Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast." Bedard said there "was not much faith in the building (in Stidham)," referring not only to the front office and coaching staff, but Stidham's teammates as well.
"I came to learn was more about how the other players viewed Stidham, more than anything else," Bedard said. "And you could even see that when he got into the games and the way he conducted the huddle. For whatever reason – and I don’t know if it was the training camp injury or the offseason thing or what have you, or the way he just conducts himself – there’s not a lot of belief (in him) in that building."
Cam Newton started 15 of the Patriots' 16 games in 2020, despite finishing the year with more interceptions than passing touchdowns. The one start Newton missed due to a positive COVID-19 test went to veteran Brian Hoyer.
Stidham made five appearances in relief this season, but four came when the Patriots were on the losing end of a blowout and the other came when his team was ahead by 38 points.
The Patriots were eliminated from playoff contention with several weeks left in the season, and they never got above .500 after Week 3. Instead of giving Stidham a test run at the wheel, Bill Belichick stuck it out with Newton, even after he averaged just 103 passing yards per game between Week 12 and Week 16.
According to Bedard, that's because the team was afraid of what might happen if they showed faith in Stidham.
"There was the feeling within the team that if they turned the keys over to Stidham, that it would become a complete debacle down the stretch and that wouldn’t be good for anybody," Bedard said.
New England took Stidham 133rd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Two years later, they're still left looking for their next quarterback.