What are preseason stats good for? Absolutely everything.
I’m enamored with the New England Patriots’ rookie class and wanted to see where fourth round quarterback Jarrett Stidham and undrafted wide receiver Jakobi Meyers stacked up against other players from past preseasons. So, naturally, I’ve compiled all of the offensive stats from the Patriots’ preseasons under head coach Bill Belichick.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham
Through two preseason games, the Patriots’ fourth round pick has looked exceptional. He hasn’t been perfect by any means, but for every dropped interception by the defender, Stidham has watched receivers drop touchdown passes. He’s shown impressive touch on passes to every level of the field, he’s adjusted to pressure in the pocket, and he’s shown that he has a strong set of tools for Josh McDaniels to work with.
Stidham has completed 28 of 43 passes (65.1%) for 372 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He has also scrambled 4 times for an impressive 34 yards.
The 65.1% completion rate isn’t too impressive- it ranks 15th among the 49 Patriots’ preseason quarterbacks with 25+ attempts- but his 107.9 passer rating ranks 5th:
- 2010 Tom Brady, 50 attempts, 128.4 passer rating
- 2014 Tom Brady, 31 attempts, 123.8 passer rating
- 2003 Tom Brady, 56 attempts, 116.8 passer rating
- 2002 Damon Huard, 50 attempts, 108.9 passer rating
- 2019 Jarrett Stidham, 43 attempts, 107.9 passer rating
- 2013 Tom Brady, 44 attempts, 106.0 passer rating
- 2009 Tom Brady, 42 attempts, 106.0 passer rating
- 2017 Jacoby Brissett, 62 attempts, 103.2 passer rating
- 2000 Tom Brady, 32 attempts, 102.9 passer rating
- 2018 Tom Brady, 44 attempts, 101.9 passer rating
Of the top 10 highest passer ratings in the preseason under Bill Belichick, seven belong to Tom Brady. For those interested, Jimmy Garoppolo ranked 11th (2017), 12th (2014), and 15th (2016).
All this is to say that Stidham is in great company. It’s not like every back-up quarterback is able to produce at the same level that Stidham has been able to- and he also hasn’t benefit from the traditional week 4 preseason game against numerous players that won’t end up on active rosters.
I also think a better measure than “passer rating” is “adjusted yards per attempt”, or AY/A. AY/A converts touchdowns (+20 yards) and interceptions (-40 yards) into yard equivalents and penalizes sack yardage, which is often the fault of the quarterback.
Stidham fares even better by this measure.
- 2010 Tom Brady, 50 attempts, 9.9 AY/A
- 2014 Tom Brady, 31 attempts, 9.8 AY/A
- 2019 Jarrett Stidham, 43 attempts, 9.4 AY/A
- 2003 Tom Brady, 56 attempts, 8.2 AY/A
- 2014 Jimmy Garoppolo, 79 attempts, 8.0 AY/A
- 2001 Tom Brady, 54 attempts, 7.9 AY/A
- 2006 Matt Cassel, 82 attempts, 7.8 AY/A
- 2009 Tom Brady, 42 attempts, 7.7 AY/A
- 2010 Brian Hoyer, 57 attempts, 7.6 AY/A
- 2006 Tom Brady, 54 attempts, 7.6 AY/A
Again, Brady accounts for six of the top 10 marks, while Stidham is joined by rookie Garoppolo, sophomore Cassel, and sophomore Hoyer. All of these players were at least replacement-level starters. This is again great company, especially since Stidham is so early in his career.
Wide Receiver Jakobi Meyers
The undrafted Meyers has quickly ascended into the Patriots’ starting line-up, and it’s understandable to hesitate heaping praise on him. We’ve seen this before, right? Kenbrell Thompkins, Brian Tyms, Chris Harper, Austin Carr. Almost every year there’s an unheralded receiver that racks up 100+ yards and goes on to do...nothing in the regular season.
Note: Thompkins absolutely did things in the regular season. Let’s never shortchange how valuable his contributions were to the 2013 Patriots.
So why should we have higher expectations for Meyers? Through two games, Meyers has 151 receiving yards which is good for the 12th-most receiving yards in a preseason under Bill Belichick. Right ahead of Meyers is the aforementioned Carr (153 yards) and Thompkins (166 yards).
- 2006 Bam Childress, 214 yards
- 2003 David Patten, 196 yards
- 2011 Matthew Slater, 190 yards
- 2016 A.J. Derby, 189 yards
- 2014 Brian Tyms, 188 yards
- 2002 David Patten, 185 yards
- 2006 Benjamin Watson, 181 yards
- 2002 Deion Branch, 178 yards
- 2011 Aaron Hernandez, 178 yards
- 2013 Kenbrell Thompkins, 166 yards
- 2017 Austin Carr, 153 yards
- 2019 Jakobi Meyers, 151 yards
- 2001 David Patten, 151 yards
- 2000 Terry Glenn, 150 yards (5 games)
- 2013 Aaron Dobson, 150 yards
- 2015 Chris Harper, 150 yards
- 2017 D.J. Foster, 150 yards
There are some quality players, like Patten, Branch, and Hernandez, along with some players that didn’t emerge, like Childress and Carr.
Are there any patterns? Only if you’re willing to draw arbitrary lines. The only players to record 60+ receiving yards in the third preseason game are 2002 David Patten (124 yards), 2003 David Pattern (81 yards), 2006 Ben Watson (97 yards), and 2013 Kenbrell Thompkins (116 yards). That’s generally good company, if Meyers is able to have another strong outing on Thursday.
Of the 17 players listed above, Meyers’ 69 yards in the first preseason game trails only 2002 Deion Branch (129 yards) and 2014 Brian Tyms (119 yards) for best debut performances. When looking at the second preseason game, Meyers’ 82 receiving yards trails only 2003 David Patten (95 receiving yards).
There’s not much to really take away from comparing Meyers to these other receivers, other than that he’s extremely likely to make the initial roster. He’s also 46 yards away from passing 2002 Deion Branch for the third-most receiving yards in a single preseason under Belichick. He need 64 yards to pass 2006 Bam Childress.
Meyers has shown great footwork to get away from coverage at the line of scrimmage, he’s shown a savvy for yards after the catch, a fearlessness across the middle of the field, and a nose for the jump ball. That’s infinitely more valuable for projecting his NFL success than comparing his production to other preseason standouts.
Regardless, both Stidham and Meyers are in great company as two of the most productive preseason stars at their position for the Patriots under Belichick.