Dante Scarnecchia spent the last of his 36 NFL seasons alongside Jarrett Stidham.
The longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach, who retired for a second time in January, recently addressed the quarterback transition from Tom Brady to the redshirt freshman.
“This is a different guy in a couple of ways. No. 1, he doesn’t have the wealth of experience that Tom has,” Scarnecchia said this past week SiriusXM NFL Radio with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian. “There’s no doubt about that, and you have to concede that No. 1. Yes, there’s going to be some things where he’s going to hold the ball longer than you want it to be held, but that’s all about growing up in this league and you know that as well as I do. Those young guys, they take some time. But I would say this for Jarrett, too: He’s a bright kid.”
Stidham went 61-of-90 passing during his rookie preseason with New England. The fourth-round draft pick by way of Baylor and Auburn threw for an AFC-high 731 yards to go with four touchdowns and one interception.
He was sacked nine times and rushed for 88 yards on 17 attempts.
“He’s a guy that when he doesn’t know, he’ll take off,” Scarnecchia said of Stidham. “And he showed in the preseason last year that he’s got some skills and he knows when to get out of there and where the escape points may be. And when he gets out of there, he also knows he better get down, because he knows better than to try to run through guys, as well. And you’re not running through many guys in this league.”
Stidham would go on to appear in three games during his initial regular season in New England. Those appearances brought a total of 15 offensive snaps in relief of the current Tampa Bay Buccaneer before him.
“There’s going to be some growing pains,” said the 72-year-old Scarnecchia, who first joined New England’s staff in 1982 as special teams and tight ends coach. “There’s no doubt about it. But the guy does have skills. He’s got a great mind. He cares. He shows up early. He goes home late. I wish him nothing but the best. If still there, I would just say, ‘Hey, listen, fellas. We’ve got to do everything we can to make this guy as comfortable as we can.’ I’m sure the guys that are going to coach those guys this year are saying exactly that.”
Stidham will turn 24 in August. He will do so on a depth chart featuring familiar veteran Brian Hoyer.
Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke join them as undrafted arrivals.
“We’ve got to be as good as we can be every down and give this guy all the support we possibly can,” added Scarnecchia. “Let him get comfortable and build confidence and be the kind of player that we want him to be – and that he wants to be, more importantly.”