Seven games into the season, Brian Hoyer’s stat-line reads like this: he has appeared in one game and has played 12 offensive snaps, going 3-for-4 as a passer for 79 yards. Despite seeing only limited action thus far, however, the veteran has proven himself a valuable member of the New England Patriots’ quarterback room.
Now in his 13th NFL season — including seven with the Patriots — Hoyer is serving as a mentor for the Patriots’ young starting quarterback. He has taken first-round rookie Mac Jones under his wing, and is therefore more than just a traditional backup at the position.
“He’s super supportive of me and trying to help me in any way he can,” said Jones about Hoyer earlier this week. “He’s hard on me sometimes, which is good, so he holds me to a high standard. He also has fun and enjoys the game.
“He’s been around for a long time ... and Brian is just a great example of a great team leader and a great team player, and if he ever needs to get in there, I know he’s going to do a great job. He’s always ready, and I’m just happy to be able to learn from him and just be in the same room as him.”
Through his seven season in the system, the Patriots have not had to rely on Hoyer a lot. He did not start his first game with the team until last season, when he filled in for one game when starter Cam Newton was diagnosed with Covid-19. In total, he has played only 26 of his 73 career games wearing a New England uniform.
Despite his lack of starting experience as a Patriot — Hoyer does have an additional 38 starts on his résumé from his time in Arizona, Cleveland, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and Indianapolis — the team is counting on him to guide Jones. As head coach Bill Belichick pointed out, after all, he is the most experienced player in a quarterback room also featuring Jarrett Stidham and Garrett Gilbert.
“He’s been in the system longer than anybody else as a player and knows the offense extremely well,” Belichick said. “It’s one thing, as a coach, to coach the players and all that, but in the end, it’s always helpful to have somebody who has actually played it be able to also talk about it because, as a player, you get told a lot of things, and as an experienced player, you can sometimes help the younger players with understanding what’s really important and what to put at the top of the list.
“With players like Brian or Jerod [Mayo] and Troy [Brown] on the coaching staff, Billy Yates, those guys have all played it, and it’s different to actually play it than it is to coach it. Both are important, but they all do a good job of that. Brian, in particular, I think has been extremely good with Garrett, Jarrett, and Mac on giving coaching points on either plays, situations, cadence, you name it, and kind of help move the important stuff up to the top.”
After visiting with the New York Jets in free agency earlier this year, Hoyer elected to re-sign in May despite virtually no chance at a starting position. Still, playing on a one-year contract, he has taken over an important role in the quarterback room, especially following Cam Newton’s release in late August.
While Mac Jones is undisputed as the starter, Hoyer is both the number two and the elder statesman in a room otherwise filled with only 22 combined games of experience. As such, he has a responsibility extending beyond being another player at the most important position on the field.
Hoyer, so far, has embraced it, and it has helped Jones transition from the college game to the NFL.
“He is always trying to learn and get better, no matter the situation. Whether it’s after a game, in a practice, you can see the wheels are always turning, what can he do better, how can he do it better,” Hoyer said about his young teammate.
“Mac’s the one out there doing it. I don’t want to take any credit for that, but for me, knowing the role I’m in, taking the knowledge that I can help share with him and then seeing him go out there and do it, especially this last week... We just got to keep that going. It’s always great to see him go out there and continue to progress and keep getting better.”