For the first time in over two decades, the starting quarterback spot in New England is up in the air. Franchise icon Tom Brady has since departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now the Patriots are looking at the prospect of replacing a legend.
Jarrett Stidham, Cody Kessler and Brian Hoyer are the current in-house candidates to usher in the post-Brady era, and it would appear like Stidham has the inside track at the job. The 2019 fourth-round pick out of Auburn was the backup for Brady all of last season and saw limited in-game action. He did, however, go toe-to-toe with New England's top-ranked defense on a weekly basis and seems to have received the stamp of approval from one of the club's biggest leaders.
"To me, the best thing for Stiddy was he had to go against our defense every week. He didn't have it easy," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said during the latest episode of his Double Coverage Podcast with his twin brother Jason McCourty. "I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we'd make eye contact and he'd just start smiling and laughing. To me, there were weeks where he was just on-point. And those were some of our best weeks as a defense, mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game, and I think put more pressure on us.
"I really admire just how hard he works, and then I've got to know him off the field as well. He's a really good guy. Young guy, but very mature. He's married. Does all the good things. I think the Stidhams are going to be in New England for a long time."
The only true in-game experience Stidham saw during his rookie season came back in Week 3 against the Jets. He initially was brought in to relieve Brady in the closing minutes of a blowout victory, but after throwing a pick-six he was put back on the sideline. While that first introduction to Foxborough didn't go swimmingly, it's noteworthy that McCourty holds him in such high regard, especially after getting and up-close look at him all throughout last season.
As Stidham tries to state his case to be QB1 in New England in 2020, the Patriots did bring back veteran Brian Hoyer to serve as competition for the job. On top of that, McCourty noted that his experience and knowledge of the system will be huge for the team either by playing or coaching up young quarterbacks.
"I think he's a guy that's going to be very necessary to have in our locker room," McCourty said.