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Samsonite Make Your Case: How many QBs to keep?

20190823-MakeYourCase-PDC

The Patriots inserted rookie Jarrett Stidham during the second quarter of Thursday night's preseason win over the Panthers, giving the rookie signal caller an extended look for the rest of the game at the expense of veteran Brian Hoyer. Stidham finished 15-of-19 for 134 yards and a fumble lost. It wasn't a perfect performance but the rookie continues to make strides this summer. 

When asked about the decision to sit the veteran Hoyer, Bill Belichick responded “Yeah, we do what we think is best for the team, take a look at everybody. Brian's played a lot of football.”

The Patriots would seem to know what they have in the 10-season veteran, who has started 37 career games after breaking into the league in 2009 as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots. Hoyer was re-acquired in 2017 after the team moved Jimmy Garoppolo and has provided a level of security behind Tom Brady since then.

The team carried a whopping 4 quarterbacks in Tom Brady's rookie year, but since 2010 they've finished the year with only 2 QBs in 6 of 9 seasons. This year, with many tough roster decisions to be made that extra spot is extremely valuable.

So, with Stidham emerging and roster spots at a premium could the Patriots choose to go with just 2 quarterbacks this season, even if a rookie backup to Tom Brady is a little frightening? This week's Samsonite Make Your Case asks the question:

Should the Patriots roll the dice with just Brady and Stidham this season?

Mike Dussault says...

NO

There's no question that Stidham has impressed with his pocket presence, ability to deliver the ball and to make some timely plays with his feet. But he's been lucky to escape three preseason games with just one fumble lost against the Panthers. There could be an easy 5 or 6 interceptions added to that total.

While I'd have no problem handing the keys to Stidham if Brady was lost and the season was likely headed down the toilet anyway (though I'm sure the defense would have something to say about that), Hoyer is the kind of experienced quarterback who could keep the ship afloat for a week or two if he needed to.

There's also the gameplan element that Hoyer brings in preparing the offense for each opponent. He drew praise for his work in last year's playoffs, mimicking opposing quarterbacks and giving the defense a close facsimile of what they'd be up against in the game. Hoyer will also be a good additional mentor to Stidham behind the scenes. 

Hoyer brings a lot of value that fans don't necessarily see. Even if Stidham is close to him in ability, he can't match all those other little things that Hoyer brings to the table.

-MD

Paul Perillo says...

YES

The Patriots prefer to only keep two quarterbacks and Stidham has already shown himself to be close enough to Hoyer that the difference between the two is not worth a roster spot. With many tough decisions to make at positions like cornerback, edge and wide receiver, it's not worth keeping two players who should have a minimal impact on the season and likely never take a meaningful snap.

Then there's the tackle and tight end positions that are uncertain, as well as some injured players the team might wish to retain and the flexibility of an open roster spot becomes even more valuable. There are enough weapons, especially at running back, to help the rookie should he be thrust into action during the regular season.

Stidham is knocking on the door through three games and should cement his place as the only needed backup by playing the entire fourth preseason game against the Giants. If he can continue to progress like he has over the summer and preseason, the decision should be an easy one.

-PP

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