If Patriots want to win, they need to start Brian Hoyer over Jarrett Stidham

The New England Patriots must start Brian Hoyer if they want to win.

What do the New England Patriots want to do in 2020: Do they want to win or not?

We know head coach Bill Belichick is addicted to winning, so this rebuilding team will inevitably find a way to overachieve this fall. New England still has The Patriot Way to fall back on, as well as what looks to be a strong defense backing up another pedestrian offense. But the real question we all want to know here is if Jarrett Stidham is the guy at quarterback?

Stidham is coming off his rookie season at New England out of Auburn. He had one decent year at Auburn in an otherwise forgettable college career. If he was the future of New England football, we would have heard about it already like Jimmy Garoppolo before him.

If the plan is for New England is to start Stidham, we’ll respect that. But you know what? They’ll win more if his backup Brian Hoyer was the one who started. Hoyer has spent nearly half of his 11-year NFL career out of Michigan State with New England over three stints. Though he’s never started a game in Foxborough because of Tom Brady, he’s won at two other AFC stops before.

If Patriots start Brian Hoyer over Jarrett Stidham, they’ll win more.

Even with a sub-.500 career record of 16-22 in 38 starts, Hoyer has a winning record as a starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans. In 2013-14, Hoyer went 10-6 as the Browns starter, most notably 7-6 in 2014 when Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator. He also went 5-4 as the starter in Houston, leading the Texans to the playoffs in 2015.

Despite being a decade older than Stidham, we’ve seen enough to know Hoyer can lead multiple teams to winning records if he has a quality supporting cast around him and a strong offensive-minded coach. In Cleveland, he had Shanahan for a year and the Browns weren’t a horrendous train wreck in 2014. A year later, he helped one of Bill O’Brien’s worst Texans teams win a division.

While his three most recent stops outside of New England haven’t gone well, the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts have all trusted Hoyer enough to go out there and start games. John Fox led two different franchises to Super Bowls, Shanahan just led the 49ers to the Super Bowl and Frank Reich was only two years removed from winning a Super Bowl.

See what we’re getting at here? Well-respected coaches trust Hoyer. They understand the ceiling is incredibly low, but he can win games leading a ball-control offense with a great defense backing him up. The Bears, 49ers and Colts were not yet complete teams when Hoyer played for them. The 2020 Patriots have the feel of respectable teams like the 2014 Browns or the 2015 Texans.

Even though his career numbers of a 59.1 completion percentage, 10,274 yards and 52 touchdown passes to only 34 interceptions aren’t jaw-dropping, they illustrate Hoyer isn’t afraid to move the sticks and will protect the football. That’s not to say Stidham can’t or won’t, but he’s only in year two of an NFL offense. What he ran at Auburn under Gus Malzahn was sophomoric.

While everybody is counting out the Patriots this year, it’s not like they need to go 12-4 to win the AFC East again. 10-6 might do it because do we really trust the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins or the New York Jets to be significantly over .500? Do you want to bet your live savings that one of those three teams goes 11-5 this year to win the division? Me neither.

Next: Teams who will regret not picking up the fifth-year option

We know Hoyer isn’t the future of New England football. What we’re not ready to admit is Stidham isn’t the future of Patriots football either. He’s more likely to be another forgettable fourth-round quarterback from a Power 5 school than he is to becoming a Kirk Cousins or a Dak Prescott. The future of the Patriots’ quarterbacking room still plays in college, and we all know that.

So if the Patriots want to win this year, they need to start Hoyer over Stidham, at least initially.

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