With less than four months to go until the start of the 2020 NFL season, the New England Patriots are slowly running low on time to figure out who their next starting quarterback is going to be. With Tom Brady long gone to Tampa, the Patriots have basically narrowed their options down to either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer. Out of those two guys, the mystery man in the equation is Stidham, and that's because no one has ever really seen him play at the NFL level. During his rookie season in 2019, Stidham exactly four passes, and with those passes, he threw more touchdowns to the other team than he did to his team.
Although that's not definitely ideal, his rookie season struggles have done nothing to kill his hype in New England. Everyone in the Patriots organization seems to be raving about Stidham, including running back Rex Burkhead.
"Very impressed," Burkhead said of Stidham this week, via WEEI. "Last year even though he didn't step on the field that much, just seeing his improvement every day on the practice field, in meetings. He's a very humble guy and he came in eager to work right away and picked it up so quickly. I think that is what struck me, how quickly he picked up the offense from the get-go."
According to Burkhead, Stidham's ability to pick up the offense happened so fast last year that the quarterback looked like a veteran by the end of the season.
"He's out there making calls, making adjustments in audibles like he has been in this system for a while," Burkhead. "I'm excited for him. Excited for his opportunity. Whoever is at quarterback -- whether it's him, Hoy [Brian Hoyer], whoever -- just ready to follow them."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick hasn't given any hints on who he might start, but during the draft in April, the Patriots decided not to select a quarterback, and apparently, that's because Belichick was happy with the two guys the Patriots already have on the roster.
"I like both those players," Belichick said of Stidham and Hoyer. "We've had Brian a couple times. I think he certainly gives us a very solid level of play. And we have a lot of confidence in him. Jarrett had a good year last year. He improved a lot and we'll see where that takes him. Yeah, I have confidence in both players."
As for Burkhead, he's not the only one who has been raving about Stidham. Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore, who happens to be the NFL's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, said Stidham has been making it "hard" on him in practice.
"He came in and worked hard and got better and better as the year went on. He has a strong arm," Gilmore said recently, via ESPN.com. "He makes some tough throws. Definitely made it hard on me in practice each and every week, going against whoever I was covering, making some great throws. It allowed me to get better in practice to prepare for the games."
The fact that everyone in the organization is praising Stidham can be viewed one of two ways: It's either a good sign because they're telling the truth, which means Stidham might actually be good, or it's a bad sign because it means they're trying to convince themselves he's good when he actually isn't. Patriots fans will definitely be hoping it's the former and not the latter because if it's that second one, New England could be staring down the barrel of their first losing record since 2000.