For the first time since the early 1990s, the New England Patriots are heading into s new season with no clear starting quarterback on their roster. Sure, the expectation is that Jarrett Stidham will eventually end up filling the void created by Tom Brady’s free agency departure, but he remains a virtual unknown after serving as a backup in 2019 and having a mere four regular season pass attempts — one of them a pick-six — on his regular season résumé.
Yet, with one year of experience under the belt and no significant additions to the quarterback room over the offseason — the team re-signed Brian Hoyer in free agency and added undrafted rookies J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke after the draft — the job will be Stidham’s to lose. Whether or not he will actually prove himself a starting-caliber QB remains to be seen, but it appears as if the Patriots are confident in the second-year passer’s ability to successfully run their offense.
This confidence also seems to be shared by Patriots fans as a look at SB Nation’s latest NFL Reacts! survey — sign up here if you also want to join the party previously known as FanPulse — shows. After the draft in late March and the league’s schedule release last week, participants were asked about their thoughts on New England’s 2020 win-loss record, and a majority projected the team to finish above the .500 line and with a winning record.
79 percent of participants had New England finish the first regular season after Tom Brady with nine or more wins, with the crowd projecting the team to win either nine or ten games leading the way with 62 percent of the votes. Only 21 percent, meanwhile, predicted that the Patriots would finish with a record of .500 or worse — with a mere two percent among those participating in the survey thinking that New England will fail to win more than five games in 2020.
Obviously, the Patriots will be facing a tough challenge regardless of their quarterback situation. Not only did they lose Brady in free agency, they also had to part ways with linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, and core special teamer Nate Ebner. Add the fact that Duron Harmon was traded to the Detroit Lions and Stephen Gostkowski released in a cost-saving move, and you get a team in a transitional state that is hard to project heading into the season.
New England will furthermore face one of the toughest schedules in the league, even though it is not as difficult as the opponents’ win-loss record makes it seem. Still, given all the personnel turnover on and off the field (see: assistant coaches Dante Scarencchia and Joe Judge) in combination with a first-place schedule, everything seems to be on the table for the team this year. Despite all that, however, fans feel confident in the Patriots’ ability to finish the season in successful fashion behind first-year starting QB Jarrett Stidham.
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