clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

17 Years of Patriots: Analyzing the quarterback traits under Bill Belichick

Statuesque starters, mobile backups, and more!

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick has been the head coach of the New England Patriots for 17 years. In those years he has molded a juggernaut, consistently leading his squad to divisional, conference, and Super Bowl championships. For the next couple of weeks, we will go position by position to see which traits matter to him, how Patriots players are utilized within the team's unique schemes, and which 2017 prospects would make sense as potential Patriots.

Most importantly, we get to remember lots of random players for the past decade!

One note - in terms of depth charting I tried to use depth charts from as early in their respective seasons as possible. If there were drastic changes or trades those players are noted, but early season depth charts are more predictive of thought processes than later, injury-afflicted rosters.


From a schematic standpoint, the Patriots’ quarterback position has not changed much over the years. Through multiple offensive coordinators and signal callers, the team has maintained a consistent, option-oriented approach, where QBs and WRs focus mainly on timing and throwing toward space and mismatches. The Patriots have had a lot of stability at the quarterback position over the years, but the backups have been a bit more variable. With incumbent Tom Brady pushing 40, it will be intriguing to see who ends up becoming his heir.


2000 Drew Bledsoe

2001 Drew Bledsoe

2002 Tom Brady

2003 Tom Brady

2004 Tom Brady

2005 Tom Brady

2006 Tom Brady

2007 Tom Brady

2008 Tom Brady

2009 Tom Brady

2010 Tom Brady

2011 Tom Brady

2012 Tom Brady

2013 Tom Brady

2014 Tom Brady

2015 Tom Brady

2016 Tom Brady

SUMMARY: Unless something drastic transpires vis-a-vis Tom Brady this offseason, the Patriots will not be looking for a new starting quarterback anytime soon. However, it is pretty crazy to remember that even in mid-2001, pundits were clamoring for Drew Bledsoe to take his starting spot back. Buzzfeed’s Erik Malinowski did a good job chronicling all of those hot takes in this article. Similar to Dak Prescott this past season, Brady was seen as a game manager rather than a playmaker, and an eventual liability in the playoffs. Thankfully for Patriots fans everywhere, the coaching staff was patient and stuck with their young gun, and the team has reaped the benefits over the past 15 years.

NFL: AFC Divisional-Houston Texans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports


2000 John Friesz/Michael Bishop

2001 Tom Brady/Damon Huard

2002 Rohan Davey

2003 Rohan Davey

2004 Rohan Davey

2005 Doug Flutie/Matt Cassel

2006 Matt Cassel

2007 Matt Cassel

2008 Matt Cassel

2009 Brian Hoyer

2010 Brian Hoyer

2011 Brian Hoyer

2012 Ryan Mallett

2013 Ryan Mallett

2014 Jimmy Garoppolo

2015 Jimmy Garoppolo

2016 Jimmy Garoppolo/Jacoby Brissett

SUMMARY: The backup position is where things may turn interesting this offseason. The Patriots are high on both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, as both could eventually run the offensive scheme that New England plays. One interesting note is that, outside of Mallett, all of the Patriot backups have been fairly athletic, at least compared to the clydesdale-in-chief. Both Garoppolo and Brissett have the capacity to break the pocket and roll-out more consistently than Brady can, and Garoppolo has shown a great deal of maturity in terms of pocket presence over the course of his development. Based on his most recent action, Garoppolo is qualified to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and it remains to be seen whether the Patriots will continue to hold onto him or will flip him to a needy team. Brissett needs more time to simmer, but he’s a special project of Bill Parcells. Bill Belichick will have him on a long leash.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

PROSPECT FITS: The Patriots may not draft a quarterback this year, but they can still look at athletic, big-armed passers who played timing-based in college and are capable of movement within a contained pocket. The New England scouting staff also likes to work with quarterbacks who have played on "trustworthy" coaching staffs. Garoppolo was a bit of an exception to this rule, but he’s also someone who literally emulated his entire throwing process to be similar to Tom Brady’s, so his fit was a bit more obvious than normal outsiders.

C.J. Beathard from Iowa is a signal-caller that the Patriots will probably take a look at on Day 3 or as a priority free agent. He’s the grandson of ex-Chargers GM Bobby Beathard and played with one of Belichick’s favorite coaches, Kirk Ferentz. Beathard has a decent arm and is a tough player. He could find his way onto the Patriots’ camp roster, especially if Garoppolo is traded away.

Another quarterback to keep an eye on is Will Worth of Navy. Belichick’s affinity for the Midshipmen is well-known, and Worth played well this season when he replaced the injured Tago Smith. He’s a bit small, but he has a good deep ball and better pocket presence than one would expect from an option quarterback. Worth would be a solid PFA choice for New England to look at post-draft.